By D.J. Cameron
Richard "Tiny" White, the fabled All Black lock forward, is prepared to forgive - but cannot forget - the "despicable" deed by Jaap Bekker, the Springbok prop, who kicked him in the back late in the fourth test at Eden Park in 1956.
Bekker revealed in the television programme Legends of the All Blacks last night that kicking White had been a premeditated bid to remove him as one of the main threats to the Springboks' forward power.
The incident occurred just before the All Blacks completed an 11-5 win, and a 3-1 series victory.
"So now we find out who did it," said White from his Gisborne home last night. "I never knew at the time which Springbok kicked me.
"It was a despicable act, one of the most cowardly deeds I have ever heard of on the rugby field.
"Fortunately, the injury did not affect me in later life. All I have is a little bit of arthritis these days," said the 74-year-old.
"I was lucky. Evidently I was about a centimetre away from being crippled for life.
"I am not one to bear grudges. I would accept an apology from Bekker if he made it."
White said he was staggered at news that the Springboks also planned to get rid of Kevin Skinner, the powerful All Black prop.
"That was one of the most powerful front rows the All Blacks have ever had, and this just goes to show the Springboks' inability to handle it."
White said that when Johann Claassen, an opposing forward in the Eden Park test, visited Gisborne as manager of the South African side in 1981, he accepted an invitation to have dinner with him.
"The kick in my back was not mentioned."
By D.J. Cameron