Colin Meads served as New Zealand team manager during the 1995 World Cup. (Reuters: Juda Ngwenya)
One of the greatest players in the history of rugby union, New Zealand’s Sir Colin Meads has died, aged 81.
Meads, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016, was a second-row forward who played 55 Tests for the All Blacks from 1957 to 1971.
The Pine Tree, labelled as such for his massive presence within his teams, captained the side 11 times, including in his final four Tests, when the British and Irish Lions travelled to New Zealand.
Bill English tweet: My thoughts are with Sir Colin’s wife Lady Verna, and his family and friends at this time.
In 1999, he was named the country’s greatest player of the 20th century and has also been inducted into the World Rugby hall of fame.
Current All Blacks skipper Kieran Read said Meads “was an icon of our game” and coach Steve Hansen echoed the sentiment.
“His achievements in the black jersey are part of the All Blacks legacy and his loss will be felt over the world,” Hansen said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said it was a sad day for New Zealand.
“Sir Colin was not only a great All Black but also a genuinely good Kiwi bloke. He will be missed,” he wrote.
“Sir Colin represented what it means to be a NZer. He was no-nonsense, reliable, hardworking, warm and very generous with his time.”