Preparations to farewell Sir Wilson
Mon, 22 Oct 2012 10:50p.m.
By Jenny Suo
Preparations are underway to farewell Sir Wilson Whineray, regarded by many as the greatest All Black captain in history.
The 77-year-old died peacefully in his sleep this morning.
“It is a shock to hear of his passing, it’s a sad blow to his family, to rugby and for us the people who played with him – it’s a great loss,” says All Black great Sir Brian Lachore.
Between 1957 and 1965 Sir Wilson Whineray played 77 times for the All Blacks - 32 of them were tests and he was captain in all but two of those.
The ‘Black Panther’ Waka Nathan played under Sir Wilson.
“A lot of us respected him immensely, he was just a champion, there's no two ways about it,” says Nathan.
He was named New Zealand sportsman of the year in 1965, and the following year he retired from rugby and became a leader off the field instead.
He won a scholarship to Harvard University where he studied for an MBA, served 10 years as chairman on the Carter Holt Harvey board and was chairman of the Hillary Commission.
But between business meetings he'd attend school committee meetings as an old boy of Auckland Grammar, and former headmaster and long-time friend John Morris says he was admired for not only his success but how humble he was about his achievements.
“He was a fine New Zealander - someone who has contributed as much to the country [as anybody]. He was a busy man but also somebody who was always interested in other people,” says Mr Morris.
Sir Wilson was knighted in 1994 for his services to rugby and business.
His business philosophy mirrored his attitude to rugby.
“Good teams do simple things well. It’s true of footy teams and it’s true of businesses,” Sir Wilson said.
Whineray died in Auckland Hospital in the early hours of this morning. He is survived by his wife Lady Elizabeth and three children.
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