If for nothing else, David Kirk has a permanent place in All Black history as the captain of the World Cup-winning side in 1987.

His rise to the leadership had been awkward as New Zealand rugby jostled with the problems of the Cavaliers crisis before injury rubbed out Jock Hobbs then Andy Dalton.

Kirk captained the Baby Blacks in '86 but when he lost the leadership for the end of year tour to France he considered giving the game away. He travelled but there was an uneasy harmony in the group and the halfback felt under pressure for his place.

The old guard were not so taken with the intellectual clean skin who had bypassed the Cavaliers tour.


Kirk set his sights on World Cup selection. Having made the cut, he was then pressed into the captaincy because of Dalton's hamstring problems.

It looked as though the captaincy curse would claim Kirk when he was concussed late in the final pool game but he managed to cover his problem and carried through to hold the Webb Ellis Cup aloft.

Kirk was an outstanding figurehead for the tournament and an astute leader and spokesman for his team.

His pass was not the crispest but Kirk always made strong decisions and often used the blindside to create space for the All Blacks as he did several times in the World Cup final win against France.

Kirk was magnanimous with his embracing salute to Dalton after the final and when the dust cleared on the playing paddocks once more, led the All Blacks to victory against the Wallabies to crush the views of their caustic coach Alan Jones.

It was Kirk's last test before he set off on a life in academia, medicine and business.

"I think I enjoyed that test more than any in the World Cup," he said. "That was one game I really wanted to win."

Date of birth: 5 October 1960
Position: Halfback
Matches: 34
Tests: 17
Test debut: 1 June 1985 v England, Christchurch
Last test: 25 July 1987 v Australia, Sydney
Provinces: Otago, Auckland
Test tries: 6
Test points: 24