While much was made of the unsmiling giants tag about the All Blacks, that could never apply to Joe Rokocoko. Even when he hit a flat spot in his career, Rokocoko's smile could light up the Eden Park grid.
One day he agreed to act as translator for an interview with his 'cousin' Rupeni Caucaunibuca who had made such an impact with the Blues. We adjourned to a venue where I asked the questions and after much hilarious conversation, Rokocoko turned to me and would deliver a deadpan 'yep' response and then fall about the show.
Rokocoko was a big man, well over 100kgs who had some serious pace in his early years. In his first two years with the All Blacks he cracked on 27 tries with his speed and finishing power too much for many opponents.
He made his debut on the right wing in foul conditions in the loss to England at Wellington in 2003 and scarcely touched the ball but when he switched to the left flank he scored 11 tries in his next six tests.
Quirks of selection meant Rokocoko played for the All Blacks before he represented Auckland. When his test time stopped he was the most capped wing for this country but tied with Christian Cullen behind Doug Howlett for the most tries.
As the game became more demanding, Rokocoko had his battles with the high ball and workrate as a stack of competitors flourished in New Zealand. He got within a sniff of a third World Cup until they overtook him and he went with dignity and that omniprescent smile to play in France.
Date of birth: 6 June 1983
Position: Left wing
Test debut: 14 June 2003 v England, Wellington
Last test: 6 November 2010 v England, London
Test tries: 46
Test points: 230