Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Kevin Skinner

For New Zealanders of a certain vintage the '56 series win against the Springboks will forever stir their blood and provoke tales about that ferocious combat.

Give those who were sideline or merely listening on the radio, a beer and some attention and the tales about the ruckus in the frontrows, seem to jump a level in the telling.

The episode had all the ingredients of a modern day tabloid potboiler with NZ heavyweight boxing champion Kevin Skinner recalled to sort out the Bok nasties, Jaap Bekker and Chris Koch, who were making a mess of their rivals.

"There was only one way to put an end to the visitors' illegal tactics and Kevin knew exactly what that was," Fred Allen said.

Skinner answered an SOS after the All Black props in the first two tests were injured. He explained to his teammates that most of the trouble started in the lineouts and he was not going to allow it.

"Not only were they good at it, they were getting away with it," he told them.

After warning Koch once about barging through the line, Skinner belted him so hard he stayed down on Lancaster Park. The punishment worked and Koch desisted.

Meanwhile Bekker was giving loosehead prop Ian Clarke a torrid time in the scrums so Skinner swapped at halftime and when Bekker threatened to punch him, Skinner got in the first hit.

"It was a real beaut to the side of the head, he would have gone down too if he hadn't had his arm around the hooker."

Two punches, there were no more, Skinner says but the warfare stories took on a global edge. As the furore continued to fester, Skinner wrote a published letter to the Auckland Star asking for the hyperbole to cease.

Statistics
Date of birth: 24 November 1927
Position: Loosehead prop
Matches: 63
Tests: 20
Test debut: 16 July 1949 v South Africa, Cape Town
Last test: 1 September 1956 v South Africa, Auckland
Provinces: Otago, Counties
Test tries: 1
Test points: 3

- NZ Herald

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