Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Paul Little

Paul Little's brittle appearance and hairdresser occupation had many in his heyday, dismissing his substance as a rugby player. How wrong they were.

He made a late start to his rep career and his 10 All Black tests and another 19 games were played in less than three years before he was done with rugby.

Those who watched him grace the club and provincial matches in Auckland knew why he would succeed at internationals. There was a grace and timing about Little's play which might not have appeared again until Bruce Robertson made his entrance.

Little sharpened his skills during Auckland's great Shield defence from '59-'63 and his expertise brought him his test debut in the middle of that reign.

Little played in an era when threequarters did not see a lot of ball from setplay but his instincts were well tuned to his role at centre, where he used his speed and skills to set up his wings.

He was there to lay on chances for his teammates, there was no tuck and run about Little's style. He attacked with the ball in two hands which left his opponents uncertain about his next move.

After injuries upset his career in '62, Little returned to top form the next season and embarked on the four month tour across Europe and Canada which bridged Christmas.

He was pushed hard for his position by Ian McRae but played all five tests as the All Blacks collected four wins and a draw on a tour which those who accompanied the visit, rated as one of the more convivial expeditions.

Statistics
Date of birth: 14 September 1934
Position: Centre
Test debut: 5 August 1961 v France at Wellington
Final test: 8 February 1964 v France at Paris
Matches: 29
Tests: 10
Province: Auckland
Test tries: 1
Test points: 3

- NZ Herald

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