Police are investigating a suspicious fire that ripped through a former All Black's home in the Waikato yesterday.
The early-morning blaze tore through the Tamahere residence of former Waikato and All Black second five-eighths Scott McLeod. It was empty awaiting his return from Japan, where he has been playing rugby since 2002.
The 10-test veteran's modern and spacious two-storey home on Hamilton's southern rural fringes has views over the Waikato River, a swimming pool, a floodlit-tennis court and several large rooms. Its value was estimated at about $2.6 million.
Hamilton chief fire safety officer Dave Jenkins said the blaze, which began in the dining room shortly after 5am, was "pretty much suspicious".
"That's mainly because the house was empty and fires in fairly new homes don't start on their own because of the type of wiring they have in there.
"You can basically discount power, and where the fire started there was no ignition source there whatsoever, so it's not like it was beside a power point or hooked up to an appliance."
Mr Jenkins said at least 25 firefighters and about five water tankers and appliances were called to the scene but the damage to the house was extensive. "It's up to the insurance company from here but I'd say about 90 per cent of the house is ruined."
Hamilton CIB is now investigating.
McLeod, who is to take up a position as skills coach for the Waikato rugby team and to develop a skills programme for the province's new talent from next month, could not be contacted for comment.
But Chiefs communications manager Erin Andersen said the property damage was "quite a personal thing and Scott really doesn't want to talk right now".
McLeod played 17 games for the All Blacks in the late 1990s and 69 games for Waikato and 44 for the Chiefs.