Barry gave rebel Fergie run about on be­half of Lions

The Rugby Paper - - News | Commonwealth Games -

WHEN he ruled the roost as New Zealand’s full- back, Fergie McCormick worked in the freez­ing de­part­ment of a slaugh­ter­house.

For three years no­body could knock him off his perch un­til a pair of Welsh­men took him to the clean­ers at the start of the Lions’ one and only win­ning se­ries against the All Blacks.

Car­wyn James had a plan de­signed to ex­pose McCormick and the peer­less coach also had the supreme ex­e­cu­tioner at his dis­posal, Barry John. His tac­ti­cal kick­ing, drag­ging the full-back across the full width of the pitch on one fool’s er­rand af­ter an­other, had such a dizzy­ing ef­fect on McCormick that he never played for New Zealand again.

Un­til that open­ing Test of the four-match se­ries at Caris­brook in Dunedin, the Ki­wis’ last line of de­fence had been used to get­ting his own way. A rebel in his youth, McCormick had ad­dressed the sub­ject in an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy with the frank ad­mis­sion: “I sup­pose I was an aw­ful lit­tle bas­tard in those days.’’

He would not have been best pleased at the New Zealand se­lec­tors de­cid­ing they dared not ex­pose him to fur­ther pun­ish­ment from John af­ter the open­ing shots of a se­ries which the Lions won 2-1.

McCormick went on play­ing for Can­ter­bury for an­other four years and died last week a fort­night be­fore his 79th birth­day.

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