28 Earle Kirton [1963-1970] CAPS 13
No matter what else he achieved on his comeback tour to Britain and France in 1967, Earle Kirton had a date with destiny at the Rodney Parade Ground when the side met Monmouthshire.
Four years earlier, Kirton had been playing his first game in black when the All Blacks su ered the only loss of their 1963-64 tour and Kirton, rightly or wrongly, wore most of the blame.
He spent three years in the wilderness before coach Fred Allen saw him as the player he needed to spark the running game he wanted the All Blacks to play in 1967.
Kirton rose to the challenge, most emphatically in the side’s first test against England, when he ran the play superbly, scoring two tries to set a rugby revolution underway.
He carried on through until 1970 when the magic wore o and he headed to England to continue his dental studies.
While with the Harlequins club he developed the coaching experience that would be put to use by Wellington and then as an All Blacks assistant coach with Laurie Mains during the 1990s.
Kirton was a disciple of Allen, who had links with Kirton’s own mentor Vic Cavanagh, and he passed their message on with enthusiasm during his coaching years.
And as for Monmouthshire? Allen told Kirton he knew why he had picked him for that game and to go out and exorcise his demons. He did that by scoring a superb individual try and the All Blacks took the win 23-12.