Grand Slam satisfaction beckons for legend Lochore

By Mark Geenty

EDINBURGH - Denied two Grand Slams by a bootlace-width, All Blacks rugby legend Sir Brian Lochore says he'll take huge personal satisfaction if New Zealand completes the rare feat here on Sunday (NZ time).

Lochore was part of the side who drew 0-0 here in 1964 after beating Ireland, Wales and England, then returned in 1967 and swept aside their first three opponents before a foot and mouth disease outbreak saw the Ireland match cancelled.

Just once, in 1978, from six previous attempts has the feat been achieved by an All Blacks team.

Lochore has lived every minute of the current tour in his role as All Blacks selector and is adamant where it rates -- if Scotland are beaten at Murrayfield.

"I'm just delighted, so far. We sat down before we came away and tried to select four teams, and we haven't deviated too much, apart from injury," Lochore told NZPA.

"It would be a big achievement this time because we've had no midweek games, we're developing a lot of players and yet we're still winning.

"I think the home countries have improved a lot from those days (Lochore's playing days).

History will show they are much stronger now in terms of world rugby."

The All Blacks took 35 players on this tour and after Sunday all but hooker Andrew Hore and halfback Jimmy Cowan would have started a test.

Such has been the All Blacks' depth that some British media have suggested the tourists have the best two teams in the world.

Scotland coach Frank Hadden even went so far to say the All Blacks could potentially pick four different starting 15s and win the Grand Slam in one day.

But Lochore said that was over the top.

"I don't think that's realistic. I can think of probably three or four other players who could have made this tour and played close to the same capacity.

"I think you'd find after that, there would be a drop-off. We've pushed it to the limit, in terms of developing players and winning."

How times have changed for Lochore, whose memories of the 1964 match are still vivid.

It was the All Blacks' fourth Grand Slam tour and they were all hard slogs -- 6-5 over Ireland, 6-0 over Wales and 14-0 over England.

It was January and mid-winter when they arrived in Edinburgh, their training ground was frozen solid all week and they could only use tennis shoes.

Captained by Sir Wilson Whineray and including Lochore, Colin Meads, Kel Tremain, Don Clarke and current New Zealand Rugby Union president John Graham, they couldn't crack the Scotland line as 70,000 locals roared them on.

"It was a very cold day and quite foggy and we didn't really perform to our capacity and they did," Lochore recalled.

"They defend their patch very well, they care about Scotland and are very good when they've got their backs to the wall."

Despite being so near yet to far in a scoreless match, Lochore admitted there wasn't intense disappointment in the dressing room afterwards.

It was only after he got back from the gruelling 36-match tour and had some time to reflect, that it hit him.

"Now looking at it, goodness me, it's very disappointing. We missed out on achieving something very important."

Lochore captained the 1967 side who beat Scotland 14-3 here, despite Meads being sent off, and the fact they missed the Grand Slam then probably rankles more.

"In '63 we didn't really win any of them convincingly. We could have lost against Ireland and Wales, we beat England okay and drew with Scotland then beat France.

"We didn't actually put them away like we did in '67. I think '67 was probably a more dynamic side."

- NZPA

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