Blame it on the Irish blarney John Gallagher inherited from his parents but after a dose of over-selling his rugby credentials, Kipper was scouted for a club rugby contract in Wellington.

At school his passion was soccer and specifically Arsenal and when he tried rugby it was usually at first five eighths. Circumstances gave him a boost in the oval code and a chat with a bloke from Wellington led to Gallagher flying out to NZ as a 20-year-old.

His knowledge of fullback play was limited but his speed and flair for the game shone through the patient teaching of his coach and former All Black fullback Clive Currie.

Before the year finished Gallagher was in the Wellington squad and being encouraged to spend more time in the capital as a rugby playing police recruit.


A trip back to the UK saw Gallagher fall into his old lifestyle but he still yearned for rugby and NZ and when his mother suggested he give it another shot, he did. After recovering from a serious leg injury and switching on to Earle Kirton's wavelength, Gallagher was picked for the All Blacks tour at the end of 1986.

He did not play a test but his style suited the attacking template for the inaugural World Cup. His pace and timing put the gloss on a talented backline as he showed when he glided in for a special try on the tour against Ireland in 1989.

It was his 13th touchdown in what was to be his 18th and last All Black test. Early the next year Gallagher was gone, tempted to a league contract with Leeds as he looked for a new sporting challenge.

Date of birth: 29 January 1964
Position: Fullback
Matches: 41
Tests: 18
Test debut: 22 May 1987 v Italy, Auckland
Last test: 18 November 1989 v Ireland, Dublin
Province: Wellington
Test tries: 13
Test points: 52