The young rugby star killed in a farming tragedy alongside his brother and his father in Northern Ireland has been hailed by teammates as a wonderful sportsman and a wonderful person.

Nevin Spence, 22, came to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene but died alongside his loved ones after they fell into a slurry tank.

Emergency services went to the family farm in Drumlough Road outside Hillsborough, Co Down, shortly after 6pm on Saturday following reports that four people had fallen into the slurry pit.

Following a lengthy rescue operation it was confirmed that Nevin, his 30-year-old brother Graham and their 52 year old father Noel, were killed.

Nevin's sister Emma, a well known artist, was taken to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment for the inhalation of fumes and her condition is described as stable.

There is widespread shock at the scale of the tragedy and community leaders have paid tribute to the stricken family.

Chief Executive of Ulster Rugby Shane Logan said: "I am deeply saddened by this tragic news.

"Nevin was a wonderful player but also a wonderful person.

"He was well liked by everyone who knew him and his loss will be deeply felt by his teammates and everyone at Ulster Rugby.

"He will be sorely missed and the thoughts of everyone involved in the game are with his family at this time."