Strewth, doc, how could a rooster like you play for the All Blacks?

By Chris Rattue

"You'll be pleased to know I'm a rugby trivia question," says Jamie Hendrie, 53, an emergency doctor from Melbourne.

In the madcap history of West Australian rugby, Hendrie's is the maddest story of all.

He is 100 per cent proof All Black. And he's almost certainly the only All Black born on a Malaysian rubber plantation.

The 19-year-old Hendrie, son of Scottish parents, had been in Australia a year when he was plucked from the West Australian Colts to play for the 1970 All Blacks in a sort of promotional exercise.

Because the legendary halfback Sid Going did not play on Sundays, the South African-bound All Blacks sought a local youngster for one of two games they played in Perth that day.

Hendrie's team - captained by Colin Meads - played a President's XV, so he is officially an All Black with the jersey to prove it.

Hendrie has trouble recalling the ground (Perry Lakes) or most of his All Black team-mates, apart from Meads. But the day still looms large in his life, as does the figure of All Black prop "Jazz" Muller.

"I remember him well because he was 18 1/2 stone (117.5kg) and accidentally fell on top of me. No one got near me playing behind an All Black pack. That was the only injury I got."

Hendrie, who learned to play the game at school in Scotland, had played an under-19 club game the day before, when he found out about his call-up.

He gets invited to All Black reunions and is tempted to accept, although nervous about barracking for the Wallabies if it coincided with a transtasman test.

"People are gobsmacked when I tell them I played for the All Blacks," he says.

"They say, 'You are pulling my leg'. So I get the jersey out and they say, 'Did you buy that?' It's certainly a good party line, although down the years there have been disparaging comments that I didn't earn the jersey."

Hendrie badly injured his shoulder three weeks after the match and virtually sank without trace.

He has spent his working life saving lives, but suffered a tragedy four years ago when one of his three sons died of cancer.

He had hoped Melbourne would win the Super 14 spot so he could go to the games.

"The mothers who organised the public rally of support in Perth did as much as anyone to win the rugby union over.

"And people are frightened of taking on the AFL in Melbourne."

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