Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Graham Mourie

Watching the All Blacks play tests overseas is always special as your countrymen usually deliver a warm feeling with victory. Graham Mourie and his men did just that when they played Wales in their centenary test in Cardiff in 1980.

They beat four club sides en route to the test and believed the pace they played at and skills would outdo Wales as well. The theory proved true and Mourie had the first try when he dummied to a flying Stu Wilson on his inside.

"Some instinct, born of years of playing, told me to hang on to the ball and to keep going," Mourie recalled. Back in the bleachers we could feel the triumph brewing and Mourie reckoned his side should have doubled their 23-6 margin.

Two years before Mourie had led his solid side to history as the first to collect the 'Grand Slam' while midweek they had been beaten by Munster.

Mourie was a shrewd captain in sync with his coaches and players, a looseforward in command of his position, a man of high principle who bypassed the Springbok visit in '81 yet retained a common touch.

When he felt the sport draining him psychologically, he finished after the series win against the Wallabies in '82, released his best-selling book and collected the royalties for which he was treated as a professional.

Mourie remained strongly connected to rugby with work for a marketing firm involved in the 1987 World Cup, an MBE award for his services, coached Wellington and the Hurricanes before he was elected to the NZRU board in 2003 after that World Cup failure.

Now he dispenses his rugby wisdom to the IRB where he is involved in law trials and safety measures for the game he loves.

Statistics
Date of birth: 8 September 1952
Position: Openside flanker
Matches: 61
Tests: 21
Test debut: 30 July 1977 v British & Irish Lions, Dunedin
Last test: 11 September 1982 v Australia, Auckland
Province: Taranaki
Test tries: 4
Test points: 16

- NZ Herald

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