Belfast - Promising Irish rugby player Nevin Spence has died after falling into a tank of animal waste on his family farm in an accident that also killed his father and brother.
The 22-year-old, who played centre for Irish province Ulster, played an exhibition game for the Irish senior team against the Barbarians this year, but had not made his full competitive debut.
Spence, his father and older brother drowned in a slurry tank on their family farm in Northern Ireland, on Saturday evening, a police spokesperson said.
A slurry tank contains animal waste and other biodegradable material that is turned into organic fertiliser.
Nevin's sister, who was present when the accident occurred, is in a stable condition in hospital after suffering from fume inhalation.
"Nevin was an outstanding young player," Irish Rugby Football Union President Billy Glynn said in a statement. "The game has been robbed of a very talented young man."
Spence, who was named Young Player of the Year at the Irish Rugby Football Union Players' Association Awards in 2011, played three games for the second tier Ireland Wolfhounds.
He had an injury-blighted start to the current season and played for the Ulster Ravens against Munster 'A' on Friday as he worked his way back to full fitness.
New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter, golf's world No 1 Rory McIlroy and Wales winger George North were among those who expressed their condolences on Twitter.
"Devastating news about Nevin Spence, his dad and brother. What a wonderful talent he was," said Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll.