Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Kent Lambert

First up 'Mighty Mouse' McLauchlan. It was a test in every sense of the word for Kent Lambert when was called off the bench after five minutes for his international debut against Scotland.

Lambert was a converted looseforward who had only been propping for a couple of years and as a 20-year-old was asked to compete against one of the Lions stars who had gutted the All Blacks.

The afternoon in Edinburgh in 1972 went well and Lambert's all round game meant he was an automatic test choice for the rest of the tour. The prop showed his array of skills in one midweek match when he took over the goal kicking and landed his only conversion attempt.

For the next few years Lambert was a fixture in the All Black front row where his power to weight ratio sorted out the scrums while he was also a useful ball carrier.

All that rugby was coming at a cost though and Lambert calculated he could not afford to play amateur rugby, no matter his love for the game, at the expense of trying to make ends meet.

Labouring, contract shearing and freezing works duties helped but it was difficult to merge those with his rugby. So in late '77 Lambert signed on to play league for the Penrith Panthers but that venture only lasted two seasons before Lambert quit because of persistent injury.

Lambert's athletic strength opened many coaching eyes to a world for props outside the push in scrums and block in lineouts routine.

Statistics
Date of birth: 23 March 1952
Position: Loosehead prop
Test debut: 16 December 1972 v Scotland at Edinburgh
Final test: 13 August 1977 v British & Irish Lions at Auckland
Matches: 40
Tests: 11
Province: Manawatu
Test tries: 0
Test points: 0

- NZ Herald

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