Herald rugby writers Wynne Gray and Chris Rattue assess the rugby legacy of All Blacks winger Cory Jane who is set to sign a deal in Japan.

Wynne Gray

During a season, Cory Jane might rock up with three or four variations of hair colour or cut.

It was hard to predict which version would appear but there is not much ambiguity about his rugby qualities.

Jane is a natural footballer with instincts about space and opportunity which elude many others at top level. Attack is not his only asset, he is a very useful defender and also strong in the air.


He'd slip into most lists of the top 15 All Black wings in the last few decades and since 2008, the All Black selectors have been impressed enough to pick him in 53 tests.

There may be more, depending on injury rates in the next few weeks but if Jane is heading for some footy in Japan, he can go with stacks of quality left in our memories.

That chopping running style, chip kicks, offloads or ability to keep the ball alive were the traits which ran with Jane. You had to peddle fast to keep up with his pace and Jane's lines of patter which were a refreshing change from much of the standard player responses around test time.

He could play fullback or wing, scored 18 test tries and set up many more with his ability to crack defences and offload to his teammates. There were loose times on and off the track but usually Jane's sporting work guaranteed those headlines.

Cory Jane talks to Tony Veitch about his future

Chris Rattue

Everybody loves Cory Jane. Or they did, in his prime, when Jane was a magic man on the wing, and a high ball specialist into the bargain.

He made rugby fun, and was certainly different for a wing, a sort of running playmaker.

This isn't a hard and fast rule, but I like the combo of a power wing such as Waisake Naholo and a Jane-type on the other wing in the test lineup. Then again, if Julian Savea was in best form, I'd probably plump for Savea and Naholo right now.

But Jane showed there was another way for wings, one based around creativity and sparkle in the best traditions of Hurricanes rugby. He could find space for himself and make space for others.

A weird AWOL incident during the 2011 World Cup is about the only blot on his record, and even then he bounced back with a terrific quarter-final against the Pumas. Jane was a trailblazer who leaves a lot of top memories.