Despite living nearly half a century in Hawke's Bay, Jonathan Moffett will never support the All Blacks.

Tomorrow, he will be in the stands of Eden Park wearing a floppy green hat and cheering on Ireland, the team he once played for.

A halfback, Moffett was touted as a hero by the Irish press in his first match against England in 1961, when he scored eight of the team's 11 points.

One newspaper article, Moffett Brings Joy to the Irish, described him as: "Moffett, a thick-set, strawberry haired individual with unbounding confidence, turned out to be the man of the match and Ireland's hero."


Another, Ballymena blond bombshell blasts Irish to victory, read:

"The chunky blond lad from Ballymena was the hero of this thrilling win over England - our first in 10 years - for he made the dream debut of football history."

Tomorrow, he believes the team can pull out the same stops against Australia.

"I think it's possible," he said. "They haven't done very well so far, but they trashed England earlier in the year and they have got into the quarter-finals in every [World Cup] to date.

"They can rise for one game and they are better than they were at the last cup.

"I don't think they will beat New Zealand but I'd like to see it - even if they don't go any further."

Moffett went on to play just one more game for his country, against Scotland in the same year and secured another two points.

However brief his international career was, when he arrives in Auckland today he will be greeted by old friends from his playing days at the Carbine Club of New Zealand luncheon.

"If they're here there are always people I know," he said.

"I got a call from Syd Millar who was the IRB chairman and I played with him back in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Most of the Irish fraternity here at the moment are young Irish guys who work in Australia and who have come over for the cup - a lot of my vintage have long since given up travelling."

Another thing Moffett said had changed since his time in green was the availability of the country's national drink at World Cup pubs.

"Heineken has a monopoly on a lot of the grounds now, and even when I went to the game in New Plymouth they had no Guinness, they just offered us Speights Dark. It's not the same."

When Moffett arrived in the country in 1963, he taught science at Lindisfarne College and played for Hastings, captaining the now defunct club for four seasons.

"I just thought so much of Hawke's Bay," he said.

"I worked for a chap in the orchards and then leased a block and got going."

He now grows a range of fruit on nearly 500 acres under Moffett's Orchards Ltd, and has also grown a large family here.

"I have three sons and a daughter, and all the three sons came back to the business. I've also got 11 grandkids, and I think about nine of them are at Puketapu School."