Ian Kirkpatrick

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Ian Kirky

Ian starred in the mid 1960s as a first XV loose forward at Auckland's Kings College. He was always a player who immediately left an impression that he had been born to the game.

Tall at 1.90m and naturally athletic, Kirkpatrick quickly made the transition from schoolboy star to first class rugby player. 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 on its way up.

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.

In 1968 against Australia in Sydney Kirkpatrick was only a reserve. But Brian Lochore broke a thumb and with the International Board having just released its rule forbidding replacements, Kirkpatrick came from the bench to score a hat-trick of tries.

From then on Kirkpatrick remained an automatic test selection and by 1977 he had amassed 38 caps. He scored 16 test tries and in 1972 he became the All Black captain.

He held the post for two seasons before being replaced in 1974 by Andy Leslie, but continued to be one of the All Blacks' foremost players.

There were numerous 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 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.

In 2003 the International Rugby Hall of Fame Trust inducted Kirkpatrick into the sport's International Hall of Fame. He has also served as the Ngatapa Club patron since 2003.