NOTE: If someone here thinks this should be in the rugby thread, then that's fine with me. I just felt this topic might get enough attention in the rugby thread, and also too many topics in one thread can get too much at times. I'm not meaning to clog up space though.
You know, something that interests me when I've spoken with New Zealanders is how hard they are on their players when it comes to designating them as "great". I mean it's a severe case of tall poppy syndrome. So that gets me thinking, which players in All Black history (a long and prosperous history) would be in their top 10 best ever.
Definitely to make it one has to do something majorly historic, like Don Clarke kicking NZ to victory over South Africa etc. One really had to be apart of one of their grestest teams to get a nod for the list. Now I'll admit I am definitely no expert on rugby, but here's an attempted top 10 based on a heck of a lot of conversation I've had with different New Zealanders.
1. Colin Meads
Seems to be a general concensus pick for a lot of Kiwi's. He doesn't exactly sound like the nicest and fairest player on earth, and for that reason my number two pick could've been number one based on his spirit for the game. But there's a lot of strong testimony on the net talking about how great Meads was.
2. Sean Fitzpatrick
I don't know if New Zealanders think as highly of him as northern hemisphere folks do. One Kiwi I talked to thought he was the best All Black ever - mainly for his captaincy. Certainly a lot of people here rate him because he was a constant in a lineage of great front rows. The fact that he was such a great captain puts him over the top, and then there's the significance of winning on SA soil... the significance of which was enphised greatly by one I talked to.
3. Michael Jones
I was reading about him just the other day. Sounds like many felt he was the perfect rugby player. He makes it for reportedly being the best player NZ had during their winning streak from 1986-1990.
4. Don Clarke
I have no doubt there's probably a few All Blacks who would be greater than him... but not many more famous. His kicking ability is still used in metaphors like "oh that's a Don Clarke kick".
5. Brian Lochore
Makes it for being a stalwart of the All Blacks team that had a winning streak from 1966-1969... in fact he was captain wasn't he?
6. George Nepia
I sort of feel weird having such a player on my list. I mean how good was the quality of rugby in the 1920s? Who knows maybe it was good. But during one conversation I had with a Kiwi while playing tennis, it became apparent to me that he was THE STAR of the Invincibles side. I mean he stands out after all this time. So he makes the list.
7. Zinzan Brooke
Zinzan makes the list because he's rated highly by Kiwi's already. Often time shows how ones legacy can be gauged, but there's no second guessing this guys greatness. I once asked a Kiwi, "what did you think of Grant Fox?" He laughed and said he couldn't score a try to save his life. I asked a different one, "how bout Lomu?" and he cut him down. Nobody cuts Zinzan down.
8. Ian Kirkpatrick
Picked for being a constant for so long in the All Blacks. I've been trying to find the 1971 Lions tour to NZ on DVD so I can see how good he really was.
9. Buck Shelford
I hesitated in putting Shelford on the list. He is VERY LOVED by every Kiwi I have ever conversed with. I guess I picked him for being the spirit of the team during such a great period, leading from the front etc. Sort of the man who epitomises everything that Kiwi's love about the All Blacks. I get the feeling though there were many better than him as a player.
10. Sid Going
The man Gareth Edwards said was the best he'd ever played against, that says a lot.
Anyway that's no great list because I've tossed a few names in there based on different criteria. Someone here's gonna do a list FAR better than that one. And there are Kiwi's here, so they'd do the job well.