Cape Town - The All Blacks have paid tribute to "fierce rival and friend" Chester Williams.

Williams, a 1995 World Cup winner and one of the most iconic Springboks of all time, died suddenly on Friday afternoon after suffering a heart attack. 

He was 49. 

On Saturday, the All Blacks took to Twitter to express their sadness at Williams' death saying, "We are saddened to hear about the passing of @Springboks great Chester Williams. Chester was an iconic figure in world rugby, a fierce rival of the All Blacks on the field and a friend off it. You will be missed. Rest in love, Chester."

Williams is the fourth member of 1995 Springbok World Cup winning team to have died - loose forward Ruben Kruger died from brain cancer in 2010, scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen from motor neurone disease in 2017 and fellow winger, James Small from a heart attack, also this year.

In addition, coach Kitch Christie also passed away in 1998.

Nicknamed the "Black Pearl", Williams was born in Paarl on 8 August 1970. He played for Western Province and the  Golden Lions during his provincial career, which stretched from 1991 to 2000. He also had two seasons of Super Rugby with the Cats.

Williams was part of the Springboks 1995 Rugby World Cup winning squad.

He played 27 Tests for the Boks between 1993 and 2000, scoring 14 tries in that time.

Williams was named the SA Rugby Player of the Year in 1994. Apart from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995, Williams was also a member of the Springbok squad that won the Rugby Championship (then Tri-Nations) in 1998, and he won the Currie Cup with the Golden Lions in 1999.

Since retiring he has been active on the coaching circuit including stints with the Springbok Sevens team, Super Rugby's Cats and the Pumas.