Born: July 10, 1935; Died: October 22, 2012.
Sir Wilson Whineray, who has died aged 77 of lung cancer, was an acclaimed New Zealand rugby player regarded by many as the greatest captain the All Blacks ever had.
Whineray played 77 matches for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1965, including 67 as captain. Of the 32 tests he played for New Zealand, he led them in 30. His international career stretched from 1957, when he made his debut against Australia, until 1965 when he retired after a series victory over Australia.
His career encompassed those of great players such as Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Kel Tremain, and the teams he led in the early to mid-1960s are still regarded as the best All Blacks line-up of all time.
Whineray, who played at prop throughout his career and was the anchor of many All Blacks scrums, also had a lengthy first-class career, representing the Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury provinces. He retired in 1966 and went to Harvard, returning to New Zealand with an MBA in 1969 and eventually becoming deputy managing director, then chairman of the Carter Holt Harvey wood products company. He also held other offices, including chairman of the National Bank of New Zealand from 1998 until 2004.
From 1993 until 1998 he was the chairman of the New Zealand sports funding body the Hillary Commission and had a host of advisory roles in rugby. In 2007 he was inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame. He was the honorary colonel commandant of the New Zealand Special Air Service from 1997 to 2001 and was knighted in 1998 for his services to sport and business management. His popularity was such that he was tipped during the 1990s as a possible future Governor General – the representative of the Queen in New Zealand.
Born in Auckland, he attended Auckland Grammar School and made his Test debut at 21 against Australia in Sydney in May, 1957. By the time New Zealand played the Wallabies the following year, he was leading his country, at 23 then the youngest All Blacks skipper in history. He remains behind only Richie McCaw and Sean Fitzpatrick as the most-capped All Blacks skipper and arguably the country's greatest sportsman of the second half of the 20th century, along with the cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee.
He is survived by his wife Elisabeth, whom he married in 1959, a son, two daughters and five grandchildren.
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