All Black legend Colin 'Pinetree' Meads dies at 81

All Black legend Colin 'Pinetree' Meads dies at 81

Rest in peace "pine tree" - Sir Colin Meads.

In 133 matches for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971, the former King Country lock played 55 tests and became recognised throughout the world as the face of New Zealand rugby.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen paid tribute this afternoon to New Zealand rugby legend Sir Colin Meads, who died today aged 81. Famously, during the 1970 tour to South Africa, he broke his arm during a provincial match.

Prime Minister Bill English said Meads' passing represented a sad day for the country and for its national sport of rugby. "He was no-nonsense, reliable, hardworking, warm and very generous with his time", English said.

'On behalf of all players, our thoughts go out to his family at this time'.

Immensely strong and physically fit due to his farm work, team mates and opponents would describe him as "tough and uncompromising" and legend built that he was all but immune to physical pain.

He was 1.92 metres tall and weighed 100kg, considered the measurements of a giant in rugby at the time.

He was dubbed "PineTree" by fellow All Black Ken Briscoe when they toured Japan in 1958 with the NZ under-23 team. His son Glynn, an able rugby player, was known as Pinecone. "He loved being an All Black and he loved his family dearly", Meads' youngest daughter, Shelley Mitchell, said in a statement released by the family. "We will miss him terribly". He was not only a great All Black but also a genuinely good New Zealand bloke.

Meads played at a time when substitutes were not allowed.

Honoured by his home town of Te Kuiti with a statue unveiled during the 2017 Lions tour.

The All Blacks were rocked by the news the day after the hefty Test win over Australia in Sydney. He retired from global rugby in 1971 after captaining a young All Blacks team to their first ever series loss to the British and Irish Lions.

Our thoughts are with the Meads family and New Zealand Rugby family, " World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper tweeted.

"He was a lock who was supposed to have his head down in scrums and occasionally get two feet off the ground in the lineouts and do nothing else", New Zealand rugby writer Wynne Gray said in 2014.