All Black great 'Pinetree' Meads dies

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"He was a quintessential unassuming New Zealander - one of those we feel especially proud of as a nation". In the All Black environment he's an absolute legend.

He went into coaching and administration after his playing career and was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame and New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

"I had the pleasure to sit down with him a couple of times and he wasn't shy of having a beer and a good yarn".

Meads died the day after the world champions All Blacks had opened their Rugby Championship campaign with a 54-34 victory over Australia and the team expressed its sorrow from Sydney.

TRIBUTES flowed from politicians, former teammates and current players yesterday as New Zealand mourned the death of All Blacks great Colin Meads at the age of 81 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. "He was no-nonsense, reliable, hardworking, warm and very generous with his time", English said.

Sir Colin was the ultimate Kiwi bloke.

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"He wore his celebrity on a sound and sensible set of shoulders", says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

"As he gained the confidence in himself and relaxed, and started to do after dinner speaking then I think and enormous amount changed for him", Mr Gifford said. "As much as New Zealand rugby is in mourning today, so is South African rugby".

"We have lost a great one".

"And the fact that he played over a long period of time - something like 12 years at the national level is a massive amount of time and particularly in those days when it was amateur and you had another career as well. There is a man who lived up to his legend".

Incumbent skipper Read believes Meads would still be a top performer in the modern game and recalled enjoying conversations with the former captain.

Colin Earl Meads was born in 1936 at Cambridge in Waikato province but his family moved soon after to the farm at Te Kuiti, where he spent the remainder of his life. - Former New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum, via Twitter.