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HAWKE'S Bay-based former Springboks fullback Lionel Wilson has a garden shed full of memorabilia.
Blazers, jerseys, ties, programmes, photos, posters and badges. What it was missing until recently was a jersey from the 27 tests he played for the Springboks from 1960-1965.
``I had swapped all my jerseys from my tests,' he told SportToday.
Thanks to the alert ears of Stu Southall, the Canterbury union's liaison officer for the three games the Boks played in Christchurch on their 1965 tour of New Zealand, Wilson has secured his fourth test jersey from that tour.
Southall, who is well into his 80s, heard Wilson being interviewed on Murray Deaker's radio show last year and contacted him. During a 45 minute telephone conversation with Wilson, who was living in Palmerston North at the time, Southall learnt Wilson hadn't kept any of his test jerseys and offered to return one Wilson had given him 42 years earlier.
``It was a marvellous gesture of Stu's,' said Wilson. Back in 1965 Southall had obtained Canterbury and All Black fullback Fergie McCormick's No 15 jersey for Wilson who was unable to swap with McCormick after the Boks 6-5 win against Canterbury as he had been rushed to hospital to have an eye injury stitched. He received the injury in a collision with one of his wingers Jan Engelbrecht.
``Those were the days of the high up and unders. A week later I knew I was going to get targeted in the first test at Wellington and sure enough I did.
``One of the All Black forwards got me a beauty. I won't mention his name ... he owned up to me at the after-match following the second test in Dunedin,' recalled Wilson who has lived in Napier for the past 14 months. His Boks team lost the test series 3-1.
``The All Black forwards were just too strong ... it was probably the best pack New Zealand ever had,' said Wilson rattling off the names of Brian Lochore, Kel Tremain, Wilson Whineray, Stan and Colin Meads, Ken Gray, Bruce McLeod and Red Conway.
``But we beat Hawke's Bay 30-12 ... I like reminding Tom about that,' he said referring to former Magpies captain Tom Johnson who he accompanies at Kelt Capital Magpies games.
Wilson, 75, was never replaced in his 27 tests. The veteran of 60 games for Western Province from 1958-1966 also toured England and Australia.
He was in the Boks side which lost four of their five tests against England and two tests against the Wallabies on the way to New Zealand.
``I can tell you the Springboks don't mind losing to the All Blacks. But we hate losing to the Wallabies ... that will happen this weekend,' he said referring to tonight's clash in Perth.
``I like Robbie Deans,' he said referring to the former All Black fullback who is coaching the Wallabies.
``I won't comment on Graham Henry (the ABs coach) ... maybe another day,' said Wilson.
A New Zealand resident since 1978, Wilson said the ABs were missing too many experienced players when they lost 30-28 to the Springboks last weekend.
``I felt sorry for the youngsters ... but that was always going to happen with so many top All Blacks now playing in England and France,' he said.
With his memorabilia collection up to date, Wilson will embark on another assignment when he returns from another of his regular trips to South Africa next month. He wants to track down Toia Nepe who was a member of a Maori concert party which welcomed the Boks to Gisborne back in 1965.
``I'm sure someone will know how to get hold of her,' he said before heading off to watch another game with Johnson.