Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Grant Batty

Grant Batty was a feisty dynamo who did things his way, to the extent that he announced his retirement in the middle of the 1977 series with the Lions after being picked for the second test.

He had scored an intercept try in the first test at Athletic Park but his right knee was too damaged to allow Batty to play with the freedom he craved. His five year career was done.

The small man who loved big challenges and was pronounced a sporting freak by All Black coach JJ Stewart, headed off into some unfulfilling business ventures.

Batty had been a whizz-kid at school in the Wairarapa and that prompted the Rugby Almanack to pick him as one of their promising players after playing for Wellington in his first year out of school.

He wanted to play halfback which may explain his choice of Sid Going, another small muscular man, as the most talented All Black he ever played with.

Batty was posted further out in the Wellington backline where he was a target for regular roughhouse attention. He never shirked the contest and his career flourished when he was shifted to the wing for the NZ Juniors trip to Australia in 1972.

That launched his test career and the memories of his extraordinary acceleration and braking power, the jaunty walk, the Zapata moustache and the tinder dry temper. Batty was entertainment plus, a bristling powder keg who loved to mix it and drew crowds into his world.

With his playing days done, Batty won the NZ Superstars series three years in a row before moving to Queensland where he turned his skills to coaching.

Date of birth: 31 August 1951
Position: Wing
Test debut: 2 December 1972 v Wales at Cardiff
Final test: 18 June 1977 v British & Irish Lions at Wellington
Matches: 53
Tests: 15
Provinces: Wellington, Bay of Plenty
Test tries: 4
Test points: 16

- NZ Herald

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