Tall at 1.90m and naturally athletic, Kirkpatrick quickly made the transition from schoolboy star and by 1966, having just turned 20, he entered first class rugby with Poverty Bay. He made his first international appearance that year along with his close friend Hamish Macdonald in the combined Poverty Bay-East Coast side against the touring British Lions.
By 1967 both Kirkpatrick and Macdonald had moved to Canterbury to further their farming careers and while Macdonald took longer to emerge Kirkpatrick's star was already in ascendancy.
After appearing in the New Zealand under 23 side Kirkpatrick was plucked from relative obscurity by coach Fred Allen for the All Black side to tour Britain and France.
Kirkpatrick was only 21 but already was playing with skill and maturity and a measure of his progress was reflected in the fact that for the international against France he was given his test debut in preference to the great Kel Tremain.
At that time the specialist role of a blindside flanker was not as defined as it has become in modern times and often flankers were used on the right and left side. But Kirkpatrick and Tremain were the forerunners of the way the number six position has evolved.
From then on Kirkpatrick remained an automatic test selection and by the time he was inexplicably dropped from the tour of France in 1977 he had amassed 38 caps, a large number in an era when there were considerably fewer tests played.
He scored, too, 16 test tries, which was the New Zealand record until eclipsed by Stu Wilson in 1983. And in 1972, with Colin Meads affected by injuries and others such as Brian Lochore retired, he became the All Black captain.
He held the post for two seasons, including the stormy tour of Britain and France in 1972-73, and there was a perception despite his considerable dignity that the captaincy did not sit easily with him. He was thus displaced in the role in 1974 by Andy Leslie, but continued to be one of the All Blacks' foremost players.
He was in colossal form on the 1974 tour of Australia and again later that year in Ireland, Wales and against the Barbarains. In the win against Wales he scored the winning try but in a curious decision that match was not given official test status.
There were numerous other distinctions for Kirkpatrick. He scored 115 tries in his 289 first class games, becoming one of the few forwards to reach the century. He was also the only man to have captained both islands: the South in 1969 in his last season with the Canterbury and then the North (in 1972-73) when he had returned home to Poverty Bay. And in the last of 33 appeances for Canterbury against Hawke's Bay he was in a winning Ranfurly Shield side.
Kirkpatrick suffered two public indignities which he did not deserve. He had no official warning he was being replaced as All Black captain and was told of the change along with everyone else under the Athletic Park grandstand after the 1974 trials. And he was told of his omission from the tour of France in 1977 by his brother Colin on the Poverty Bay team bus. Ironically, there is a feeling that Kirkpatrick in the latter stages of his career was better qualified to captain the All Blacks than when he had the position and been handicapped by poor management.
Kirkpatrick retired from all rugby early in the 1979 season. In latter years Kirkpatrick has remained close to rugby, often being consulted by the media for comments. He has also led many supporter groups on tour and was manager of the Cavaliers when they made their unauthorised tour of South Africa in 1986. In recent years he has been used, too, as a mentor to All Black sides. Timeline: Kirkpatrick played 39 tests for the All Blacks between 1967 and 1977 1980 - Ian Kirkpatrick was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire2003 - the International Rugby Hall of Fame Trust inducted Kirkpatrick into the sport's International Hall of Fame 2003 - Kirky named as Patron of Ngatapa RASC 2008 - The Fitzpatrick-Kirkpatrick Cup was established and was contested between King's College and Sacred Heart. It is named after Kirkpatrick and fellow former All Black Sean Fitzpatrick 2019 - Kirky appointed Patron of Poverty Bay Rugby 2020 - Kirky named Patron of NZ Rugby 2022 - the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship Player of the Year award will become the Ian Kirkpatrick Medal in recognition of the legendary former All Blacks Captain, loose forward and current NZR Patron