Former All Black Leon MacDonald was returning from celebrating his birthday last night when he confronted two teens who had just broken into his home and stolen a bag of rugby jerseys, kept as mementoes of his stellar international playing career.
The former Crusaders star quizzed the young burglars before they threatened him and made off around 1am before cops arrived.
It wasn't until this morning that 37-year-old MacDonald discovered that up to 15 international rugby jerseys, including treasured All Blacks tops and ones he'd swapped with South African, England, Australian, French and Italian opposition players, were gone.
"I felt a bit sick when it actually sunk in what was missing. It was gutting... you could never replace them," the 56-test All Black said today.
"To actually have jerseys you've swapped with players, there's a story behind every one."
The jerseys were folded into a bag kept in a garage attached to his Blenheim home.
They are all easily identifiable with game dates.
MacDonald's own All Blacks jerseys have his name woven into the fabric.
He is especially gutted to lose two British and Irish Lions jerseys from their 2005 tour to New Zealand.
Today at a press conference at Blenheim Police Station, he spoke about the special qualities surrounding the famous black jersey.
"It's a ritual. You get your jersey the night before. It means a lot. Often when you're leading in to a test, you're sitting there looking at it. It's a privilege to play for the All Blacks."
Marlborough Acting Senior Sergeant Julian Lewis said enquiries were ongoing, but did not believe MacDonald had been specifically targeted.
Other high-value items were not taken in the theft.
Mr Lewis urged the thieves to hand in their quarry.
"Leon's put in a lot of hard work earning these jerseys and representing our country and we'd dearly love to be able to return them to him," he said.
"Nobody else has the right to have these jerseys and if anyone is offered one I'd urge them to do the right thing and call police.
"They are of hugely important value to Leon, but they are of no financial value to the person who has stolen them."
MacDonald says he still has around 45 jerseys left, and is confident he'll get the rest back.
"It means a lot more to me than them. Hopefully common sense prevails," he said.
"I just want them back.".