The Press

Rugby world reacts to death of All Blacks icon


Old foes and rugby greats from all over the world are paying tribute to towering All Blacks icon Andy Haden.

The former All Blacks lock died in Auckland yesterday morning after a long illness. He was 69.

Long-time friend, rugby sparring partner and former Australian lock Peter FitzSimons has said Haden will be remembered for many things but first and foremost for his extraordin­ary playing ability.

‘‘New Zealand never thought they would see the likes of the great All Black forward Colin Meads again, and so far they’re right – but the gargantuan Haden is the one who ran him closest,’’ FitzSimons has written in his

Sydney Morning Herald obituary. FitzSimons said the imposing Haden had many more strings to his bow than just strength, coordinati­on and skill.

‘‘There was a cleverness to his play, an ability to read the game, to find the way to win whatever it took – famously taking ‘a dive’ against the Welsh at Cardiff in 1978, to milk a three-point penalty goal, to deny the locals what would have been a legendary victory – that stood out,’’ FitzSimons wrote.

Off the field, FitzSimons said

Haden was full of joy and humour with a huge network of foes turned friends around the world who he regularly kept in touch with.

‘‘He was the rugby archetype of the man who would do his best to flay you and slay you on the field, but be the first to shake your hand afterwards and at after-match receptions be the one to cross the divide and get the two teams mingling, and then singing,’’ FitzSimons wrote.

Another former Australian player, David Campese, who represente­d the Wallabies 101 times, said Haden’s legacy will remain an important part of All

Blacks history.

‘‘RIP my friend,’’ Campese captioned an Instagram photo of Haden playing for the All Blacks.

Former Springboks forward Schalk Burger Sr described Haden as a fierce opponent on the field and a friend off it.

‘‘Rugby and charisma is poorer today but we all loved you Andy Haden. RIP my old World XV room-mate,’’ Burger Sr wrote on Twitter.

Another former Springboks forward, Rob Louw, played alongside Haden in a Presidents World selection in Cardiff and described him as ‘‘one of the greats’’.

‘‘A visionary of the future of the programme and an all-round good guy,’’ Louw posted on Twitter.

Veteran northern hemisphere rugby journalist Peter Jackson said Haden’s win-at-any-cost attitude made the All Blacks lock a controvers­ial figure in Britain and Wales but there was nothing but admiration for his determinat­ion when it came to his health battle.

‘‘Nobody questioned his courage in a 17-year fight against cancer. Our sympathy to his family and friends,’’ Jackson wrote on Twitter.

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