All Black living legend Sir Colin "Pinetree" Meads says children must play sport - and play it to win.

And he says it's a good idea to choose your life partner wisely.

Above all, enjoy life. Sir Colin blew out 77 candles yesterday.

The 55-test lock and former All Black manager - described by his former coach Sir Fred Allen as the greatest All Black to play the game - took time out from celebrations to reveal the five most important life lessons he has learned.


1. Enjoy your life: "The first one is you really have to go out and enjoy life to its fullest. It's one of the lessons of philosophy that I have always followed, that you must always try to enjoy your life and to live it to its fullest. It's pretty simple really."

2. Play to win: "All young people must play a sport and they must play it to win. I'm against the education system saying you participate and don't have to play to win. It teaches you to be a good loser if you don't win but you must always play to win."

3. Be yourself "and don't try to be someone else. Don't try to emulate some super-top sportsman. There's only one Richie McCaw so don't try to emulate him - just go out there and be yourself."

4. Hard work never hurt anyone: "My mum used to say hard work was good for young people, and that sort of thing, when I was growing up. Everyone these days doesn't seem to work as hard - even farming has become too organised and too mechanical. They don't dig postholes and ram 'em up like we used to. They use a posthole rammer, which seems easier, so everything is different in that respect."

5. Choose your partner well: "It's something you definitely need to look at. You're either compatible or you're not compatible with the person you're going to be with and if you're not, well obviously things are not going to last. Verna and I have been married now for [he asks Lady Verna] ... okay, it will be 56 years on October 5."

They married a year before Sir Colin made his test debut in 1957 in a career that ended in 1971.