Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks - 1st XV: No 12 Sid Going

These days Sid Going is living back in Chiefs country where he helped coach the squad in the inaugural 1996 season of Super rugby.

He's keen to make a trip down to Waikato Stadium or at least watch a few games on television as long as it does not interfere with his mission looking after the temple at the nearby Church College, where he boarded as an inaugural pupil when the college opened in 1958.

Going had gone home to Northland when he was picked by the legendary Ted Griffin to make his provincial debut as an 18-year-old halfback.

"He was a great man, the best for the time and picked us because he knew we had the talent and wanted us to use it in the games," Going recalled. "He saw the potential in us and wanted us to exploit it."

That initial excitement was fleeting because Going left on a two year mission to Canada. Amidst that lifelong church service, Going and wife Colleen ran a farm and raised five children while Super Sid played 86 games including 29 tests in a decade of All Black duty.

"We had tours of four months then so the load was left to my wife to do all the work around the house, milk the cows and raise a family," Going said.

In his heyday, Going and brothers Ken and Brian used their famed triple scissors move to outwit and mesmerize tacklers who were accustomed to standard marking on defence.
One of their best efforts, said Going, came in 1975 when the trio used the move to help the NZ Maori side beat Tonga.

Sadly replays were not in vogue then at grounds or on television to help you revisit and unravel the magic.

Going toured South Africa twice, in 1970 then six years later. Neither All Black trip cracked the elusive series triumph as they brought different experiences for the lively halfback.

He thought he was at least the equal of Chris Laidlaw on the first visit but did not get the chance to highlight his assessment. That gloom was balanced by Going's enjoyment of a tour which was not as restrictive as the next.

Going was the premium halfback in 1976 when poor goal kicking and refereeing bias saw the All Blacks sink to another series defeat.

"A lot of things had changed in South Africa by then with the public, people and situation," he said. "A lot of the refereeing thing was our own fault because we didn't take opportunity to have neutral referees."

Tough times followed a year later when the Lions visited and won the series. They were a strong side and well coached while the All Blacks had injuries and made such puzzling selections that Going challenges people to recall some of the backline combinations.
"It seemed to change every time we played and I think that was part of our own undoing," he said.

Gareth Edwards was probably his greatest rival and Going was grateful he usually had the advantage of being behind a stronger All Black pack which allowed him to use his full game.

He played at about 80kgs, was ultra fit, naturally strong and helped by the wrestling training he had at college. He practiced hard to last full games and was glad he played in an era when replacements were not fashionable.

"I wanted to play, I wanted to look to make a difference in times like the last five minutes, that was a game of rugby," he says.

Statistics
Date of birth: 19 August 1943
Position: Halfback
Matches: 86
Tests: 29
Test debut: 19 August 1967 v Australia, Wellington
Last test: 9 July 1977 v British & Irish Lions, Christchurch
Province: Northland
Test tries: 10
Test points: 44

- NZ Herald

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