34 Graham Mourie [1976-1982] CAPS 21
For a player who cast such an aura over the period he played, Graham Mourie’s career was relatively brief and involved only 21 test matches, although his stance on matters South African denied him three caps against the 1981 Springboks, while injury denied him tests against Australia in 1978 and financial demands meant he didn’t tour Australia in 1980.
But there can be no doubt his cerebral approach influenced the All Blacks when he did play.
After early exposure of his leadership in Argentina in 1976, he was handed the captaincy in 1977 in a two-test series in France, the second of which was an outstanding display of Kiwi cunning devised by fellow loose forward Kevin Eveleigh to run the huge French pack o their feet.
He led the side to the first Grand Slam in Europe in 1978, which unfortunately ended his profitable association with coach Jack Gleeson who died of cancer in 1979.
But if there was a time when Mourie demonstrated his finest qualities it was when leading the All Blacks on the centennial tour of Wales, drawing down the curtain on a controversial decade between the sides, through the sheer quality of the rugby played, Mourie himself scoring one of the sweetest of tries in the Wales test.
His decision to take payment for his autobiography highlighted the intransigence of rugby’s amateur attitude and aided the advent of professionalism.
Coaching stints with Wellington, and the Hurricanes, over a five-year period at the turn of the century were followed by his serving on the NZR council from 2002-2013.
DEEP THINKER Graham Mourie was an intelligent player who others aspired to be like.