As we continue to pick over the 2015 World Cup squad, we can see how much the game, methods and selections have changed since the 1987 tournament.

Four new players were picked in that squad - Zinzan Brooke, Bruce Deans, Michael Jones and Bernie McCahill - and when replacement skipper David Kirk raised the Webb Ellis Cup in triumph, only Deans from that quartet had missed out on a game.

Jones was perhaps the most extraordinary tale. He was a lithe flanker with a magnificent range of skills who had started his test career 11 months earlier for Samoa.

His work there and for Auckland showcased a player of extraordinary skill and when Jones was picked for the Barbarians' end-of-1986 tour to Europe then the national and zone trials, it was clear he was heading for test rugby with the All Blacks.


It was obvious to most who watched enough rugby. However there were those who wondered about his durability and panned Jones' promotion as an Auckland plot and foolish for someone who refused to play on Sundays.

Those with a more morbid sense of perspective suggested Jones should alter his beliefs because rugby was a religion in New Zealand.

All the banter and criticism slipped off the experienced shoulders of Brian Lochore, Alex Wyllie and John Hart. They knew a gold standard player when they saw one and Jones fitted the mould for the game they wanted to introduce at the first World Cup. He was dynamic and fearless and gifted enough to play in the backs if necessary.

Jones was chosen for the opening game against Italy alongside Wayne Shelford and Alan Whetton in the loose forwards as the All Blacks overpowered their opponents.

The All Blacks' first try was a penalty try before Jones latched on to a spilled ball after half an hour, shrugged off Serge Blanco's attempted tackle and surged to the line for the first from a player. The All Blacks were on their way to history and Jones was on his march to rugby fame.

Throughout the tournament, where Jones missed a pool game against Argentina and the semifinal against Wales, his support play, accurate tackling, breakdown work and timing stood out among a galaxy of greats.