By WYNNE GRAY
NPC team: Auckland
Super 12: Blues
Super 12 games: 71
Test debut: 1998
Test caps: 29
Strongman Kees Meeuws has all the kit to fit a prop's reputation.
He is immensely powerful, explosive, scrums solidly, is a good ball-handler and scores tries - good credentials stacked on top of his 29 tests and the experience of going to the last World Cup.
Round those basic propping necessities, Meeuws delivers an exotic tale of a man with diverse Dutch and Maori heritage, an earringed, multi-tattooed, pig hunter who loves the arts and performs a mean haka.
Meeuws pulled on his first black test jersey in 1998 as tighthead prop against the Wallabies. But after a couple of seasons in the frontline, Greg Somerville took over.
That order has remained, although Meeuws has shown a resurgence this year after his transfer to Auckland and the Blues. He had to muscle up and show an aptitude for consistent hard work.
Meeuws has all the physical attributes and is rated right up with Brad Thorn as the strongest All Black.
A few leg injuries have hampered him but it was felt his concentration wavered at times and he veered away from his basic tight-forward requirements.
And Meeuws the tryscoring machine sparked the hint of a seagull call; a word or two about someone seeking plums rather than planting the head south and the bum north.
That topic resurfaced with the Blues. There was a snarl or two about primary jobs as coach Peter Sloane worked all of his old coaching tricks to keep Meeuws in the zone each week.
Those revs and Meeuws' ability gelled as the 125kg prop rampaged with the Blues to a Super 12 title and All Black selection.
If he has convinced national coach John Mitchell he can scrum and defend as vigorously as he scores tries, Meeuws may be given more World Cup starts on the hard grounds in Australia.
By WYNNE GRAY