Rugby legends, family, friends and colleagues of ex-All Black captain Frank Oliver gathered in Palmerston North yesterday to farewell the man remembered as a ferocious lock.
The procession at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit drew hundreds who heard tributes to the ex-Blues coach who died suddenly in his sleep on Sunday.
At midday, three helicopters flew over as the 65-year-old was carried into the church by six pallbearers, including his sons James and Anton, who is also a former All Black captain.
A young team of Marist rugby players dressed in club uniform watched on.
Oliver played 17 tests at lock for the All Blacks, captaining the side on four occasions.
He played his first test against South Africa in 1976.
During his career, he played 43 matches for his country before his final test at age 32 during the ill-fated Springboks tour of 1981.
In 1978, Oliver and fellow lock Andy Haden devised a plan to dive in the lineout against Wales and secure a crucial penalty for the All Blacks that resulted in a 13-12 victory.
Yesterday, among the dozens of young and old people were many proudly displaying their Manawatu colours.
The service was followed by a private cremation.