Former All Black captain and Blues coach Frank Oliver has passed away at age 65.

He died in his sleep on Sunday, Newstalk ZB reports.

Oliver played 17 tests at lock for the All Blacks, captaining the side on four occasions, making his debut against South Africa in 1976.

During his career he played 43 matches for his country before his final test at age 32 during the ill-fated Springboks tour of 1981.


He first made a name for himself as a ferocious lock in Southland, where he played 64 games, before heading north to play for Manawatu from 1980 to 1983. He helped the province win the national championship in 1980.

His son Anton also captained the All Blacks.

Oliver turned his hand to coaching and was the Hurricanes' inaugural coach from 1996 to 1999 before taking the reins at the Blues during the 2001 season. He also coached Manawatu in 1995-96 and the amalgamated Manawatu-Hawkes Bay side the Central Vikings for two seasons in 1997 and 1998.

In more recent times Oliver had been running a business in Palmerston North.

Manawatu chief executive John Knowles said the community will be reeling today as the news spreads.

Knowles said Oliver has been a huge contributor to Manawatu rugby.

"Certainly his legacy I guess comes through his younger son James who's currently playing for the Turbos.

"He was an outstanding All Black and outstanding player for Manawatu rugby and leaves a huge hole here.''


- ZB