George Bridge came to Christchurch with no rugby contract, and no position promised at an academy.

The story of his elevation to the All Blacks has the slightly sepia toned feel of long lost days when a kid from Putaruru called Wayne Smith, unable to get a start in the Waikato team, could drive south to Canterbury in a clunking old Valiant in 1979, and within a year become an All Black.

Bridge, whose parents, Crispin and Chick, run a hill country farm at Manutuke, 14km out of Gisborne, went to high school at Lindisfarne College in Hastings. His parents

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