All Blacks legend Buck Shelford reckons Northland centre Jack Goodhue has what it takes to be a great rugby player with a long career in black.

And Shelford should know - he's down as one of the ABs' greatest players, captaining the side from 1987 to 1990, when the All Blacks did not lose a game.

Shelford is visiting on Friday to speak at the inaugural Club Northland luncheon at the Northland Events Centre, in Whangārei, from 11.30am. The event is a fundraiser for Alzheimers Northland.

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Those at the Alzheimers Northland lounge at the Okara Park Stadium will also watch the Mitre 10 game between Northland and Manawatu with Shelford. The non-playing Taniwha squad will greet club members there too.

Shelford said he'll likely tell some stories from his playing career and will have a Q and A session with club members.

Having done many such sessions in the past Shelford said one of the main things people want to talk about is an infamous game very early in his career that has been dubbed the "Battle of Nantes" in 1986.

Northland's All Blacks centre Jack Goodue has a great future in the game, ABs' legend Buck Shelford says.
Northland's All Blacks centre Jack Goodue has a great future in the game, ABs' legend Buck Shelford says.

Roughly 20 minutes into the match, he was caught at the bottom of a ruck, and an errant French boot found its way into Shelford's groin, ripping his scrotum and leaving one testicle hanging free. He also lost four teeth in the process. Amazingly, after discovering the injury to his scrotum, he asked the physio to stitch up the tear and returned to the field.

Shelford says that match and incident has taken on a bit of a life of its own and if asked about it on Friday he will clear up any confusion.

"It's gone way beyond me now and a lot of people talk about it and a lot of them get it all wrong. If I get asked [on Friday] I'll let people know what really happened, but if nobody asks I won't talk about it,'' he says.

Shelford says he's keen to see Northland play live again this season after watching the first Mitre 10 cup game against his North Harbour team, which won a tight contest by one point.

''It was a close game, but neither side played particularly well. They've both improved since then and Northland have been playing some good rugby. It'll be good to see them again against Manawatu.''

Shelford said he's been impressed with the form of Northland centre Jack Goodhue with the All Blacks and reckons he will have a long career in black, if he can avoid serious injury.

''He's a very, very talented player. I've also spoken to a number of people about him and I've got nothing but good raps on the kid. I've been watching him play the last couple of years for Canterbury and Northland and he's got a big future in the game,'' he said.

"And his brother Josh is a good player too. He's a very handy loosie and I'm looking forward to seeing him play again on Friday.''

With this being Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) Shelford can take some credit for helping spread te reo to the world as he's responsible for making the All Blacks' haka what it is today.

Otago Medical Research Foundation Lunch, Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin. Friday 22 June 2018 © Copyright, Adam Binns Photography, Dunedin, New Zealand 2018
Otago Medical Research Foundation Lunch, Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin. Friday 22 June 2018 © Copyright, Adam Binns Photography, Dunedin, New Zealand 2018

Shelford revolutionised the All Blacks by teaching his teammates the proper version of the Ka mate haka which the All Blacks still perform.

He said in hindsight it's good that he is being recognised for helping the world hear te reo Māori, but says that wasn't necessarily his aim at the time, it was to make sure his teammates got it right.

Nevertheless, Shelford said it's important that the language survives.

''You do what you do at the time then move on then 30 or 40 years later it's nice that you can be credited for something that's helped bring [the language] it back.

''If your language dies your culture dies so it's important that te reo Māori is spoken more and more. At the time in the early '80s my daughter was going to kohanga reo, which is where the movement to save the language started, as the Māori version of a kindy. My kids went there and we were immersed in the language.

''I think it's important to use both of my languages and the haka was a way of making sure the language was done correctly.

"Now wherever you go in the world and you say you are from New Zealand they will say 'the All Blacks' and 'the haka' - Māori language is known around the world because of the haka.''

Shelford said Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is really for today's children as many adults are too stuck in their ways, but children were always keen to learn.

''And research says if children learn two languages earlier it's good for their mental development. Children are sponges and are willing to learn the language and we need them to learn it to grow the language and to help those young minds develop.

''When I was in Wales in the early '80s the Welsh language was dying so the Government launched a campaign to get more people speaking it or it would be dead. Now it's a thriving language 40 years later. So it takes time to develop the language again and it's great to see it's now starting to thrive again here.''

Alzheimers Northland said 80 per cent of Kiwis are affected by dementia in some way. Alzheimers Northland is currently helping more than 600 families.

All funds raised from Shelford's event will go directly to Alzheimers Northland. Club Northland is working with and supported by Sport Northland.