Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith revealed the emotions felt by the side before and after their win over the Highlanders on Friday.
The team heard about the tragic passing of Jerry Collins two hours before kick-off in Napier.
The competition leaders went on to thrash the Highlanders 56-20 with Smith afterwards outlining how he felt upon hearing the news and arriving at the stadium.
"He was a legend. He was a hero. I watched him play and then was fortunate enough to join him in the team [Hurricanes]," Smith told Stuff.
"To see the pride he had in the jersey every time he wore it and the same with the All Blacks. He was a proud man, people loved him, the players loved him. I'm glad I never had to play against him.
"We found out just as we were hopping on the bus. It rocked us in different ways I think. For guys like me who had played a lot with him and looked up to him he was a bit of a hero, so it was a tough game to prepare for.
"I sat on the bus and thought I was alright, but when I saw the changing room before the game, it was really tough."
The feelings were similar in the Highlanders camp for their head coach Jamie Joseph, who worked with Collins in the past.
"It was horrible. I coached JC, so it was a real shock and it was just trying to fathom it really. It was tough mate. I don't know what to say. Such a young guy," said Joseph.
"He's had his ups and downs as a player. He's been to France, back to Japan and back to France again, but I actually ran into him when he was back in Wellington last, which makes it even sadder. I'm lost for words really."