In a variation to the usual Good Sport feature, the Advocate picked up a profile of Northland Rugby Union club liaison officer and ex-All Black Bruce Robertson, who features in senior Herald rugby writer Wynne Gray's 100 Greatest All Blacks list. Here's what Gray said of the former All Black centre.

Bruce Robertson had designs on a cricket career. He was a useful fast-medium bowler who enjoyed his off-season playing rugby with his mates.

However, a visit by Counties coach Barry Bracewell to a club match at Maramarua to watch a prospective provincial forward turned into gold for the coach and Robertson.

He was playing second five-eighths but Bracewell was sure the tall fair-haired speedster would make a superb centre and invited him to rep training.


Robertson's impact was so swift he was taken on his first All Black tour as a 20-year-old to begin his 102 matches and 34 tests in the national jersey.

Hamstring problems impaired his trip and it took all sorts of physio, including daily massages from Counties flatmates Graeme Taylor and Peter Goldsmith, to help correct the problem.

"When he was fully fit, Bruce was devastating and you had to be on your game on the wing to keep up with him," Goldsmith recalled.

"He would motor along at three-quarter pace, carrying the ball out in front in two hands and then, when his head went back and his knees were up, he hit the turbo button."

Robertson played best on tour and was a star on the 76 trip to South Africa but disenchanted with the local referees he claimed cost him two penalty tries and the All Blacks at least a drawn series.

That tour and his disgust at apartheid saw Robertson opt out of playing the Boks in 1981 and he finished at the top level that year as he helped the All Blacks to a romping win against Scotland.

A quiet man, Robertson has stayed connected to rugby with a range of coaching work including time with Ardmore, the Blues and now as a secondary schools co-ordinator for the Northland Ruby Union.