Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata looms as probably the biggest name entered in a World Masters Games rugby competition that will also feature a handful of former All Blacks later this month.

Apiata became the only living Kiwi to hold the esteemed military honour in 2007, when he was recognised for bravery under fire in Afghanistan three years earlier.

He was rewarded for carrying a gravely wounded soldier across a battlefield - under fire - to safety and the following year, he succeeded Sir Edmund Hillary as the "most trusted New Zealander".

Despite his fame, Apiata, 44, tries to keep a low public profile, but is a regular guest/presenter at the annual Halberg Awards and was invited into the All Blacks' dressing room to celebrate their 2015 World Cup triumph at Twickenham.

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At the Masters Games, he will turn out for the Team Barfoot & Thompson (over 30s), who open their campaign - ironically, for Apiata - against the NZ Defence Force (over 40s).

Apiata left full-time military service in 2012 and now teaches adventure skills to young people, as part of the High Wire Charitable Trust, although he still remains with the SAS Reserve Forces.

Willie Apiata and Valerie Adams announce the All Blacks as the Supreme Halberg Winner during the 53rd Halberg Awards. Photo/Photosport
Willie Apiata and Valerie Adams announce the All Blacks as the Supreme Halberg Winner during the 53rd Halberg Awards. Photo/Photosport

Perhaps the most notable NZ rugby identity to lace up the boots for the tournament will be former All Black prop Steve McDowell, who played 46 tests for his country and was a mainstay of the victorious 1987 World Cup.

Others who have worn the black jersey include midfielder Pita Alatini (1999-2001), loose forward Paul Miller (2001), and halfbacks Kevin Senio (2005), Ofisa Tonu'u (1996-98) and Ant Strachan (1992-95).

Former Auckland prop Kevin Nepia played 16 games for the NZ Maori, loose forward Scott Palmer had 12 tests for Italy, while Romi Ropati, Tu Nu'uali'itia, Timo Tagaloa, Eddie Ioane and Mark Birtwhistle have all represented Manu Samoa.

Also lining up to play - Naked Samoans comedian David Fane and former Commonwealth Games swimmer, turned actor Kirk Torrance, best known as Wayne Judd in Outrageous Fortunes.

Perhaps the most famous ex-All Black contesting the Masters Games will be legendary winger Bryan "BeeGee" Williams, 66, who played 38 tests for New Zealand (1970-78), and will front up for golf and lawn bowls this month.

Twenty teams will contest the men's 15-a-side rugby competition over three grades (30+, 40+, 50+), starting Saturday, April 22, with finals scheduled for Wednesday, April 26 at Pakuranga's Lloyd Elsmore Park.

At 86 per cent, rugby boasts the highest proportion of local entries - just three Australian teams break up the Kiwi domination.