Over the years, rugby luminaries have been quick to praise Sir Colin Meads. Here are some of the comments that were made about him in the final years of his life.

Fred Allen, the All Blacks coach from 1966 to 1968, said: "To me Colin Meads was the greatest rugby player ever. There's been no-one better. They threw away the mould when they made Pinetree."

Sir Brian Lochore: "What he has done for Te Kuiti is amazing, but what he has done for New Zealand is unsurpassable".

Steve Hansen: "He is a legend of our game and a man who has performed heroically for not only the All Blacks but also his province."

NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey: "It goes without saying that Sir Colin is one of New Zealand's special treasures - both as an All Black, but also as a great example of what it means to be a New Zealander. What we love about Sir Colin is that despite the international recognition and praise heaped on him, he just considers himself to be a guy from Te Kuiti."

Listen: A tribute to Sir Colin Meads


John Gainsford once tried to challenge Meads in a test match between New Zealand and South Africa. "Meads grabbed hold of both my wrists," the Springbok sighed. "It was like being held in a band of steel. I couldn't move. He looked up and said, 'Don't bother, son.'"

Phil Kingsley Jones: "He would be walking down the street in Crickhowell in South Wales and people couldn't believe they were seeing Sir Colin Meads. He really loved people and had time for everyone."

All Blacks website: "As a sporting legend Meads is New Zealand's equivalent of Australia's Sir Donald Bradman or the United States of America's Babe Ruth."

SIR COLIN'S LIFE AND TIMES:

* Became the second All Black ordered off in a test when Irish referee Kevin Kelleher dispatched him for dangerous play against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1967 after aiming a kick in the vague direction of Scottish first five David Chisholm. The UK's Daily Telegraph wrote: "For one with Meads' worldwide reputation for robust play, this was rather like sending a burglar to prison for a parking offence." Brother Stanley Meads played 30 matches for the All Blacks; locking the scrum 11 times with Colin.

* First player to reach 50 tests, captained the All Blacks 11 times

* Achieved his status as a rugby icon while always playing at representative level for his small, rural-based provincial union, King Country. He went on to play 139 games for the union, debuting aged 19.

Advertisement

* Played 361 first class matches from 1955 to 1973

* Nicknamed Pinetree for his 1.92m, 102kg frame, Sir Colin played 133 matches for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971, including 55 tests, scoring 28 tries and one conversion

* In 1986, he earned the ire of the New Zealand Rugby Union by going as coach on the unauthorised Cavaliers tour of apartheid South Africa.

* Went to the 1995 World Cup in South Africa as All Blacks manager.

* In 1999, was named New Zealand rugby's Player of the Century and, in 2001, a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby and the community.

* In a 2008 Ministry of Social Development report, Sir Colin was named third most trusted New Zealander after Victoria Cross holder Willie Apiata and triple Olympic gold medallist Peter Snell.

* Donated money from speaking engagements to buy farm in Te Kuiti for people with intellectual disabilities in the 1980s. Pinetree Farm is still owned and operated by the IHC. The scheme raises more than $1 million annually from the sale of donated calves.