25 Ian Kirkpatrick [1967-1977] CAPS 39
Spotted by coach Fred Allen playing Under 23 rugby, Ian Kirkpatrick was something of a surprise inclusion in the 1967 touring team to Britain and France where he was expected to be a back-up to No 8 and captain Brian Lochore.
So quickly did he advance on the tour that he won test status as a blindside flanker and reshaped thinking on the position over the rest of his career.
His athleticism was dynamic and is best represented in his runaway try scored in the second test against the British & Irish Lions at Lancaster Park in 1971, still one of the greatest forward tries scored by an All Black. A natural leader he led the side after Colin Meads’ retirement until replaced in a shock move in 1974.
But he gave great support to new skipper Andy Leslie and remained a force until the end of the 1977 Lions series.
His form in Australia and Ireland, Wales and England in 1974 and in South Africa in 1976 was a high point and by the end of his career he had scored 16 test tries, an All Blacks record at the time.
All of which saw him as a dominant figure in loose forward play and establishing a template by which all future blindside flankers would be measured.
Once his playing days were complete, he coached his Poverty Bay club side Ngatapa before also assisting the coaching of the Poverty Bay representative side.
In 1986 he travelled back to South Africa as manager of the Cavaliers and during the professional era he had a mentoring role with the Hurricanes.
MR DOMINANT Ian Kirkpatrick was a huge presence in the All Blacks’ loose trio.