Ian Kirkpatrick agrees that the signature try of his All Black career was his famous run from halfway down on the old embankment side of Lancaster Park in the final few minutes of the second test in 1971.  

"Even now I get people coming up to me to say they were there that day. Going by the numbers who say it, there must have been thousands at Lancaster Park."  

But accompanying the try has always been a measure of modesty which has never disappeared.  

"I suppose now with everyone conscious of the TV cameras being on them I would have done something silly at the end like throwing the ball in the air," Kirkpatrick says.  

"But I've always felt a bit embarrassed about that one. It certainly was the most spectacular try I got in a test. But in the context of a game I'm not sure whether it was the most important.  

"I've always relished the one I got against the Springboks the year before at Cape Town because that helped us win the match.  

"You have to remember the try I scored at Lancaster Park came late in the game and the match was already won, with us ahead 19-6 and only five or six minutes left. It was just one of those things and it happened all so quickly.  

"There was a ruck or a maul following, I think, a lineout, and somehow I just had the ball and the way seemed clear to the goalline ahead.  

"A few of them (the Lions backs) came at me but I was able to fend them off and just keep on running." 


Fullback JPR Williams - whom Kirkpatrick reveres even now as one of the toughest defenders he encountered - almost toppled him, but after a stumble Kirkpatrick regained his feet and his unstoppable momentum.  

Churlish British critics have raised the fact that in their pursuit of the rampaging Kirkpatrick, some of their backs - notably the wing David Duckham - may have been obstructed.  

But Kirkpatrick says his interpretation has always been that the All Black player in question, wing Bruce Hunter, was simply trying his best to give support should it be needed.  

In the Herald, Terry McLean wrote: "The entire crowd of 57,501 stood to him and brought down the roof of heaven."  

Kirkpatrick believes his try, in what eventually was a 22-12 win, was a slice of the good luck which didn't always go the All Blacks way in the 1971 series.  

"They were a good side, that particular Lions team, but really they could easily have lost the series," he says.  

"We should have won the first test at Carisbrook and came close to winning the fourth at Eden Park. The only game where we were well beaten was the third test at Athletic Park.  

"There was little in the series but you couldn't call that one of our vintage years. It was not a great All Black side, we were disrupted in the backs and unsettled in the front row."  

Kirkpatrick says the most inexplicable aspect about the Lions of 1971 was their reluctance to use their backs in the tests and a reliance on the boot of Barry John.  

Only in the provincial matches was extensive use made of the backs.  

Six years later, Kirkpatrick scored another remarkable try against the Lions, following through on a Bruce Robertson chip kick and dotting down in the opening 54 seconds of the third test at Carisbrook.  

That set the All Blacks up for a surprisingly comfortable 19-7 win, which meant the Lions could not win the 1977 series.  

"That wasn't a bad Lions side but the 1971 side had better players, especially in the backs," Kirkpatrick recalls. "Had the Lions of 1977 had a few inventive backs they may well have squared the series at least."  

The 1977 series was significant for Kirkpatrick as it was the last time he appeared in an All Black jersey. Somewhat surprisingly, for he appeared to have regained much of his confidence and was starting to take a leadership role, he was omitted for the end of year tour of France in 1977, with Graham Mourie installed as captain.  

Having started his test career in that country 10 years previously, Kirkpatrick had wanted to go to France for sentimental reasons.  

But for reasons which have never been explained Kirkpatrick, having excelled just a few weeks previously in the test XV, was now not considered good enough for a squad of 26.  

He was replaced by Dick Myers Kirkpatrick received the news of his omission from his younger brother, Colin, on the Poverty Bay team bus just after having played Counties in Pukekohe.  

"Funnily enough, I haven't been back to Pukekohe until just a few weeks ago when I went there to address the Hurricanes just before a Super 12 practice match against the Chiefs," Kirkpatrick says. "I've long since got over the disappointment of being dropped like that.  

"But it probably would have been easier to take if the player picked ahead of me had gone onto something big." 

Player Snapshot 

Made his All Black debut against Eastern Canada in 1967, aged 21.  

Played 39 tests, nine as captain.  

Played a total of 113 games for the All Blacks, 43 as captain.  

Scored 16 tries in tests, a record that lasted until wing Stu Wilson eclipsed it in 1983.  

Another All Black wing, Joe Rokocoko, raced to 17 test tries in his 2003 debut season to set a new record for a calendar year.