Over the past six months I have brought to you my favourite All Black players since 1970.
I have enjoyed testing my memory as to which players I had a connection to. With most of the players there was some reason they were selected in my team of favourites.
Take Bryan Williams for example, I followed the All Blacks tour of South Africa in 1970 and Williams was the star player whose style of play I totally admired.
Being a Northland boy there was only one halfback I could have chosen, Sid Going. And Christian Cullen played rugby the way it should be played, with freedom, excitement and wonder.
The players played rugby in their own style and were originals. Take Carlos Spencer for example and Zinzan Brooke, two players who will never be replicated.
Then there were the “hard bastards,” Peter Whiting, Sean Fitzpatrick and Steve McDowall fit into this category, committed players who expected others to give as much as they did.
Then there are the players who missed out but will easily be named on other pundit’s lists. They may have been skilful players but I either did not have a connection with them or they played a style of rugby I did not fully support.
Jonah Lomu and Richie McCaw spring to mind. How could I leave them out you may ask? With Richie it was because of a certain Michael Jones who played rugby the way they would in a perfect world. Jonah? If there was a bench, he is on it!
For style and class, it is hard to go past Bruce Robertson and Stu Wilson, two intelligent rugby players. The younger ones will not have heard of Joe Morgan but once again a Northland product who exemplified what a hard tackling, team man is.
And then there is “Kirky,” Ian Kirkpatrick, scorer of one of the finest individual tries you will see. Andy Haden and Carl Hayman round out the team, two exceptional players who attracted their share of controversy.
Both Andy Haden And Joe Morgan have passed away but left their mark on rugby and society.
Zinzan Brooke, Sean Fitzpatrick and Bryan Williams were the three most popular players judging by the number of comments. Zinzan and Stu Wilson probably competing for the character of the team. One thing I thought of which did not happen, was for some of the players to be interviewed with their thoughts on rugby today. Possibly a book is in order?
Players of today? My article back in June about the naming of the All Black squad for 2021 attracted varied feedback, but in my opinion was probably pretty much on the money.
A team that I cannot see winning the next World Cup. Can they win with Ian Foster at the helm?
The one player who I admire from the current All Blacks, is Will Jordan, who plays the game as it should be played. The magic man is a skilful, exciting player who I hope will be in the black jersey for a long time.
Are there up and coming players who in the future will be regarded as “favourite” All Blacks? I sure hope so.
Here is the team:
Sid and Carlos together? I believe they would click. Christian and BeeGee at their absolute peak would be frightening. Bruce Robertson feeding Williams, Wilson and Cullen.
Joe providing the steel. Zinzan, Kirky and Michael Jones would be scripted out of rugby heaven! The tall timber of Whiting and Haden would be bolstered by the strong men in the front row.
There you have it, hope you enjoyed it. A collection of All Black favourites.