FORMER Melbourne Rebels player Hoani MacDonald collapsed with a suspected heart attack during an NPC Championship division match near Auckland yesterday.
The Southland second-rower went down during the first half of his side's semi-final clash against Counties Manukau in Pukekohe.
CPR was performed on the 34-year-old, who was taken by ambulance to Middlemore Hospital in a serious condition.
MacDonald played 23 Super Rugby matches for the Highlanders between 2004 and 2008 and after spending time with Welsh side Newport Gwent, signed a two-year deal with the Rebels for the 2011 season.
After sustaining a serious hand injury in Melbourne's opening game, he returned home to New Zealand early this year.
Meanwhile, it's not just the young All Blacks who have stepped up to the mark this season, the new coaches have proved their worth as well.
Assistant coach Ian Foster and defence coach Brian ''Aussie'' McLean have justified the faith Steve Hansen showed by bringing them on board for the new-look top table after last year's World Cup.
The selections raised a few eyebrows at the time but Foster and McLean have silenced any critics with influential roles in improving the performance of the world champions.
Foster has relished the opportunity to work with the best players in the business and his backline has operated with sizzle and style.
The high-paced approach took a while to settle in but after demolishing Ireland in the third test in Hamilton they started to find their rhythm against the next best teams in the world in the Rugby Championship.
And as good as the attack has been at times, the defensive work under McLean has been the foundation of their victories. When things were tight in the second test against Ireland and the early rounds of the Rugby Championship, relentless defence was the key ingredient to setting up eventual wins.
For Foster, it's been about growing into his new environment after a long apprenticeship at NPC and Super Rugby level. It's fair to say he's grown increasingly comfortable and so have the players and management around him with the ways of the Waikato stalwart.
''It takes a bit of time,'' Foster admits. He never got to play for the All Blacks but was earmarked by the New Zealand union as a potential coach at the highest level with his appointment as Junior All Blacks coach. There was even investment put into him during the 2008 Grand Slam tour when he travelled and trained with Sir Graham Henry's team for part of the tour. It was a move for the future and one which gave Foster the faith to stay patient, resist overseas offers, in his belief that a chance would eventually come.
''When you are a coach it's a fantastic honour to be involved in coaching your country. I didn't go into it worrying about it being post-World Cup and all those perceptions. You go in and say, 'It's a great honour and you're going to give it everything you've got'.''
That's exactly what he's done.