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Colin Meads and Brodie Retallick named greatest All Blacks locks

By Sam Smith
(Photos / Getty Images)

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Sir Colin Meads and Brodie Retallick have been named as the greatest All Blacks locks of all-time by a panel of rugby experts and the Kiwi public.


As part of Sky Sport’s quest to find New Zealand’s Greatest XV, a panel of leading journalists and broadcasters – Grant Nisbett, Ken Laban, Rikki Swannell and Phil Gifford – were last week asked by The Breakdown who they thought were the country’s best-ever locks.

The panel were unanimous in their verdict that Retallick, an 84-test veteran who is part of the current All Blacks squad, and Meads, the late great who played 55 tests for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971, were New Zealand’s greatest locks.

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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper speaks to media
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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper speaks to media

Their verdict was supported by the Kiwi public, who voted Retallick (60 percent of the public vote) and Meads (57 percent) as the best-ever All Blacks second rowers on social media.

Former All Blacks coach John Hart told Sky Sport that Meads, named New Zealand’s Player of the 20th Century, “transcends” rugby due to his “ability, longevity, pain barrier”, and, “controversy”.

“He had this aura about him that was intimidating,” Sir Bryan Williams added. “He was an enforcer in every sense of the word. He was strong, he was powerful, he had that thorough brow, and if he told you not to touch him again, he actually meant it.

“He was an awesome presence, ball in hand, running with one hand down the field. Just intimidating.”


Former All Blacks player and coach Laurie Mains described Meads as “the best lock world rugby as seen”.

“I was lucky to have a few games with Colin towards the end of his career,” Mains told Sky Sport.

“He simply is the best lock that, I think, world rugby has seen. He was driven by incredible determination to dominate his opposition, and driven to be the fittest he could possibly be.”\

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, meanwhile, said he “loved playing alongside” Retallick during their time in the New Zealand national side together between 2012 and 2015.


“I loved playing alongside Brodie,” McCaw told Sky Sport. “He intimidated opposition because he was a brute of a man to try and tackle and stop, but his skill level, for a big man, was phenomenal.”

“Playing against Brodie is not fun at all. He’s a constant pest. He’s just competitive and he’s so smart and so long and big and strong and so good at rugby,” Retallick’s All Blacks teammate Aaron Smith added.

“One of the most talented guys I’ve ever played with by far, and how young he was when we both started our career in the All Blacks together, and he shot up to superstardom very quickly.

“From his days at the Chiefs, straight into the All Blacks, fitted in like a glove, and then winning World Player of the Year, that just shows the class of the guy, and I think his All Black test record speaks for itself, too.

“The games that he’s been apart of we usually won, and a lot of the games where he was either injured, and losses I’ve been apart of, he wasn’t playing.

“I’ve been in teams with great All Blacks, but you felt confident when Brodie Retallick was running around that you’d go close to winning that day.

“He just has that winning mentality and whatever is needed he’d do, whether it was a charge down, a big hit, a turnover, a great lineout steal. His ability to impact the game was phenomenal, and from lock, I think he’s changed the game.”

All Blacks Greatest XV

1. Tony Woodcock (118 tests from 2002-2015)
2. Sean Fitzpatrick (92 tests from 1986-1997)
3. Ken Gray (24 tests from 1963-1969)
4. Colin Meads (55 tests from 1957-1971)
5. Brodie Retallick (84 tests from 2012-present)
6. N/A
7. N/A
8. N/A
9. N/A
10. N/A
11. N/A
12. N/A
13. N/A
14. N/A
15. N/A


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