In part two of this All Blacks feature we take a closer look at the Bay's men in black. Twenty-three have made the cut in the last century and, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup under way, sports reporter David Beck and Bay of Plenty Rugby statistician and historian Brent Drabble put their heads together to come up with a first XV of Bay of Plenty All Blacks.* Some players, such as Sam Cane, picked themselves while other positions caused more debate. Here is what they came up with.
*Includes players who were members of the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union when they made at least one appearance for the All Blacks. Those who made the side after moving to other provinces are not included.
1. Steven McDowell
Bay of Plenty: 35 games (1982-1989), 2 tries, 8 points.
All Blacks: 81 games (1985-92), including 2 tests, 7 tries, 28 points.
Packing in at loosehead is Steven McDowell who, at his best in the late 1980s, was ranked among the best in the world at his position. While he spent much of the latter part of his career in Auckland, for whom he played more than 100 games, the former Western Heights High School student was a Bay of Plenty player in 1989 when he made 15 of his All Blacks appearances. He was a member of the 1987 All Blacks side who won the first Rugby World Cup.
2. Hika Reid
Bay of Plenty: 84 games (1978-1987), 13 tries, 52 points.
All Blacks: 40 games (1980-86), including 9 tests, 8 tries, 32 points.
While Nathan Harris provides some strong competition for the hooker position, it's hard to go past Hika Reid. Playing 40 games for the All Blacks in his era was impressive and the way he played the game was eye catching. He was revolutionising the role of the number two long before the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick and Dane Coles and his try from his own 22m against Australia in Brisbane in 1980 has been a strong presence on highlight reels since.
3. Eric Anderson
Bay of Plenty: 26 games (1956-61).
All Blacks: 10 games (1960), including 0 tests, 2 tries, 6 points.
Anderson was originally a lock but All Blacks selectors felt he was too small for the second row and he was moved into prop. He played for the combined Bay of Plenty-Thames Valley side which met the British Lions in 1959 and obviously impressed national selectors as he was selected to play in trials for the 1960 South Africa tour. He played all three trials and was selected ahead of other specialist props. He played three preliminary matches in Australia and seven in South Africa before a rib injury kept him from the field.
4. Arthur Jennings
Bay of Plenty: 89 games (1962-70), 9 tries, 27 points.
All Blacks: 6 games (1967), including 6 tests.
The first of our locks is Arthur Jennings, a long serving Bay of Plenty man who had a brief stint in the All Blacks, as one of the squad on the 1967 tour of Britain and France. He played the first of his seven All Black trials in 1963 but only in 1967 did he win the nod of national selection.
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5. Gary Braid
Bay of Plenty: 124 games (1981-91), 9 tries, 36 points.
All Blacks: 13 games (1983-84), including 2 tests, 1 try, 4 points.
Rounding out the tight five is Gary Braid. The Tauranga-born lock only took up rugby in his final year at Ōtūmoetai College but was a quick learner, immediately making the first XV. He played for the Bay against the 1983 Lions and caught the eye of national selectors, making the All Blacks' end of the year tour of Scotland and England. His son Daniel Braid also played for the All Blacks six times between 2002-10.
6. Tanerau Latimer
Bay of Plenty: 84 games (2004-18), 5 tries, 1 conversion, 27 points.
All Blacks: 6 games (2009), including 5 tests.
Latimer's exceptional abilities were clear from the outset, he was selected for the Bay of Plenty provincial side while still attending Tauranga Boys' College in 2004. He was selected for the All Blacks in the 2009 Iveco series, after Richie McCaw was sidelined by injury, and played multiple matches against France and Italy. He played 17 times for the Māori All Blacks and was named captain in 2012.
7. Sam Cane
Bay of Plenty: 19 games (2010-present), 5 tries, 25 points.
All Blacks: 64 games (2012-present), including 63 tests, 14 tries, 70 points.
There was not much debate over this one with Sam Cane slotting in at openside flanker. Arguably the greatest Bay of Plenty rugby product, renowned for his exceptional tackling and scavenging skills, Cane will play an integral role in the All Blacks' defence of their World Cup title this year. He was a fantastic player in his own right before spending several years firmly tucked under the wing of Richie McCaw and taking his game to another level. Cane has captained the All Blacks three times.
8. Frank Shelford
Bay of Plenty: 121 games (1977-87), 24 tries, 96 points.
All Blacks: 22 games (1981-85), including 4 tests, 9 tries, 36 points.
While he was predominantly an openside flanker for both Bay of Plenty and the All Blacks, we have shuffled Shelford, the second cousin of Buck, into No8 in our Bay of Plenty All Blacks first XV. It is a position in which his speed and aggression will still be utilised and being one of the Bay's all time greats, with 22 All Blacks appearances, he simply had to be included. He had an outstanding game for the Māori All Blacks in their 12-all draw with the 1981 Springboks, in which he almost had both ears ripped off, and came into the All Blacks for the famous flour bomb test against the South Africans.
9. Kevin Senio
Bay of Plenty: 22 games (2003-05), 6 tries, 30 points.
All Blacks: 1 game (2005), including 1 test.
While Senio's All Black career lasted all of four minutes, he makes our side by virtue of being the only option at halfback. He was called into the All Blacks squad in 2005 as backup to Piri Weepu, after Justin Marshall left to play overseas and Byron Kelleher was injured, for the last three matches of the Tri-Nations and came on as a substitute for the last four minutes of the last match. That was the extent of his All Black involvement but he formed a lethal combination with first five Glen Jackson for the Bay.
10. John Brake
Bay of Plenty: 98 games (1973-81), 9 tries, 19 conversions, 17 drop goals, 27 penalties, 206 points.
All Blacks: 5 games (1976), including 0 tests, 2 tries, 8 points.
John Brake was an excellent first five for Bay of Plenty, for whom he very nearly played 100 games. Brake was one of four Bay of Plenty players who made the All Blacks 'second team' to tour Argentina in 1976. That year that All Blacks took about 30 players to South Africa but sent a second string side, who still received full All Black status in the history books, to Argentina.
11. Grant Batty
Bay of Plenty: 0 games.
All Blacks: 56 games (1972-77), including 5 tests, 45 tries, 180 points.
Batty comes into our side on the wing with an asterisk next to his name. Originally from Wellington, he moved to Tauranga in 1976 was affiliated with the union and a member of the Ōtūmoetai Cadets but was busy playing for the All Blacks that year and did not actually make an appearance for the province. However, his affiliation was enough for the official record keepers and therefore the prolific try-scorer makes our side on the wing.
12. William 'Bill' Gray
Bay of Plenty: 59 games (1952-66), 17 tries, 4 conversions, 59 points.
All Blacks: 11 games (1955-57), including 6 tests, 2 tries, 6 points.
Coming in at second five is Bill Gray who played his first game for Bay of Plenty as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 1950. He played in a tough 1956 series against South Africa in which he broke his leg but returned to play another five games for them the following year. A sporting all rounder, Gray was also a Māori tennis champion in 1950.
13. Edward 'Eddie' Stokes
Bay of Plenty: 129 games (1971-81), 33 tries, 130 points.
All Blacks: 5 games (1976), including 0 tests, 1 try, 4 points.
Stokes was another of the four Bay of Plenty men who made the All Blacks 'second team' to tour Argentina in 1976. Like Brake, it was the only time he would wear the All Blacks jersey. However, he was a Bay of Plenty stalwart, with 129 games, and his consistency in the midfield makes it a little bit surprising that he did not get more national recognition. He first emerged as a strong running centre when in 1971, aged just 21, in only his third match for the Bay, he was impressive in the side's narrow loss to the British Lions.
14. Mark Taylor
Bay of Plenty: 64 games (1973-78), 30 tries, 1 penalty, 123 points.
All Blacks: 27 games (1976-82), including 8 tests, 11 tries, 2 conversions, 1 penalty, 51 points.
Taylor also made his All Blacks debut as part of the second string side who toured Argentina in 1976 but, unlike the other three, he was able to force his way into the All Blacks again in the years following. The 27 matches he had for the All Blacks were almost evenly divided between the wing and the midfield.
15. Greg Rowlands
Bay of Plenty: 161 games (1969-82), 38 tries, 166 conversions, 164 penalties, 15 drop goals, 1008 points.
All Blacks: 4 games (1976), including 0 tests, 10 conversions, 8 penalties, 44 points.
Also a member of the second string All Blacks side who toured Argentina in 1976, Rowlands was an exceptional goal kicker, scoring more than 1000 points for Bay of Plenty. As a first five Rowlands played in All Blacks trials in each of the 1970 and 1971 seasons and in 1971 and 1972 he was in Bay sides which proved competitive against the British Lions and Wallaby touring teams but it was at fullback that he made his four All Blacks appearances.