Hitman, enforcer-the terms have serious underhand connotations and Mark Shaw bristles about those descriptions of his work but in his time, Shaw seemed to carry an explosive devise under his black jersey.

Different game, different time, law of the jungle, he would say. Wallaby Steve Williams understands. He made the mistake of missing with his attempted clout and in retaliation, Shaw broke his jaw with a short left.

Shaw was unbending about his deeds for the team and thrilled in 1980 when Graham Mourie redefined the roles with Shaw in the tight-loose duties on the blindside. He was in sporting heaven.

"Any guy who wanted my spot in the All Blacks was going to have to fight me for it," he said.


Shaw weighed in about 95kgs and stood 1.88m and used that frame aggressively in bustling driving play and rugged defence. Once he made the All Blacks, it governed his life. He drew on the emotion of being an All Black to deliver the unwavering commitment to the black jersey.

He was old school and did not concur with what he felt was the over-generous number of players selected to be touring All Blacks. He'd shake his head and mutter about jerseys being given jerseys away.

Shaw got his chance when All Black coach John Mitchell asked him to be a selector in 2002-a year when they decided to leave 21 senior players at home to prepare for the World Cup instead of touring Europe.

"Fleas" he used to say about the rugby media, "no idea what they're writing about."

That was Cowboy, abrasive, patriotic, all for the All Black cause.

Date of birth: 23 May 1956
Position: Blindside flanker
Matches: 69
Tests: 30
Test debut: 21 June 1980 v Australia, Sydney
Last test: 6 September 1986 v Australia, Auckland
Provinces: Manawatu, Hawkes Bay
Test tries: 5
Test points: 20