'True great of our game' – Tributes flow for former All Blacks captain Andy Haden following his death

Source: 1News

Tributes have begun to flow for All Black great Andy Haden who died today after a long illness, aged 69.

Haden was remembered by his former All Blacks teammate and current NZ Rugby president, Bill Osborne.

"Andy’s stature and influence as a player was huge. Not only was he an immense physical presence, there was also immense respect from his teammates,” Osborne said.

“Most people will remember the way he dominated the lineout as a tower of strength, but I also remember the way he looked after the young players coming into the All Blacks, and how he advocated for players’ rights both during and after his playing career. 

"Our thoughts are with his wife Trecha and his family."

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said Haden “will be remembered by those who saw him play as one of the true greats of our game”.

“Andy was one of the most recognisable figures in New Zealand Rugby both on and off the field. His contribution as a player for Ponsonby, Auckland and the All Blacks was massive over a long period of time.”

Haden first made the All Blacks in 1972, making his debut against New York Metropolitan in New York as a 21-year-old. 

Five years later he made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington and he was a near automatic selection for the best part of eight years including captaining the All Blacks on eight occasions.

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 18:  Former All Black Andy Haden looks on during a friendly match between the classic All Blacks of New Zealand and the French Classics of France at Queenstown Recreation Ground on September 18, 2011 in Queenstown, New Zealand.  (Photo by Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images)

Following his retirement from rugby Haden became an agent to the stars and has been remembered as a "mighty man" by by former supermodel Kylie Bax.

Bax's association with Haden went back to went she was launching her career as a young woman – she remembered feeling a sense of adventure but that was underpinned by absolute trust in her agent.

“I was young, I travelled, it was a huge step,” she said.

“But I guess you need a few rocks like him ... there was something about him where you could feel safe. He gave his honest opinion, I felt very supported by him.”

Bax said that having been famous himself, Haden had an innate understanding of celebrity culture and that made him very good at what he did.