Kiwi keeps history alive
Few can claim to have had as much of an impact on New Zealand rugby league as Don Hammond.
The Te Atatu Peninsula man has pulled on the Kiwis, Te Atatu Roosters and Mt Albert jerseys as well as becoming a coach for Auckland and the Roosters.
These days Hammond is best known as curator of the Rugby League Museum, housed on the ground floor of the NZRL headquarters in Penrose.
This Sunday the museum is opening its doors for a special day for the public, which features some of Hammond’s favourite exhibits and the stories behind them.
‘‘I would have to say the first Kiwis jersey which had the V in 1938,’’ Hammond says of his fondest piece. ‘‘ The V was different from the rugby [union] jersey.’’ Hammond’s regarded as one of the best to ever appear for the Kiwis, playing in the second row from 1959 to 1965.
A former five-eighth who converted to the forwards in search of game time for his Mt Albert club side, Hammond was outsized by most of his opponents, but this didn’t stop him enjoying incredible success in the Kiwis jersey.
‘‘I never cared where I played, as long as I was on the field,’’ he says.
Known as an old-fashioned type of player who tackled hard and low, Hammond debuted for the Kiwis on the 1959 tour to Australia before captaining the squad just two years later on the famous 1961 European tour. He later captained the side to their first test series win against France on French soil – a feat Hammond describes as ‘‘one of [his] proudest moments in the Kiwis jersey’’.
He played 61 times for his country, including 20 test-match appearances.
After retiring Hammond went on to coach Te Atatu and an Auckland representative side, before becoming involved with the New Zealand Kiwis Association.
He also played a crucial role alongside former team-mate and ex-Kiwis fullback Jack Fagan in establishing the Rugby League Museum which eventually opened in 2007.
Gate keeper: Former Kiwi Don Hammond has a few gems to share this Sunday.