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2 May 2014
This Just In; May 2014; Of course you could say it was 'logical' that Adam Whitelock would go on to become an All Black. Yes he has great form and talent in the 15 aside game. He has shown that for years. But those same skills meant it was only right and rational that Sir Gordon Tietjens would eventually use them and put Adam into his 'Sevens All Blacks' for the last two tournaments of the 2014 IRB World Sevens Series.
Whitelock looked totally at ease in the new game for him at international level playing a significant part in New Zealand's sevens team winning so well in Glasgow, beating Canada 54-7 in the final.
Whitelock is one of the four famous Canterbury and Crusaders rugby players who are brothers. But they are part of a rugby family stock which is generations old, is very impressive and goes a long way to explaining the ongoing rugby talent.
Let's take this one step at a time. Back in North Canterbury in the years after the war, a battle-scarred soldier returned home. His name was George Nelson Dalzell. And he was a tough bugger who had seen the horrors of war. Indeed during a 3rd New Zealand infantry division landing at Guadalcanal in a Pacific 'hell-hole' Dalzell was blown into the air and severely injured from an exploding Japanese shell. The wound in his leg was so grave there was serious talk from the medics on hand that the leg should be amputated. The immensely strong sheep farmer Dalzell said 'no way' - and that was the end of story though his hospital convalescence lasted two painful years.
The wound left him with a hole in his leg that was ghastly to look upon and surely, said his friends when he finally got home, it would be so severe that he would never play his beloved rugby again. But Dalzell did, always for the Culverden Club, in North Canterbury.
Before each game teammates would see Dalzell packing what was essentially a hole in his leg with wadding and then taping a shin guard into place. Nothing more would be said about the injury as Dalzell then charged about the field.
Did he have ambitions to go higher in the game than club level? Maybe he didn't but soon the Canterbury rep selectors came calling.
His first games in the red and black were in 1948 and there were more regular and consistent appearances as the next few seasons rolled by. His locking partnership with the future All Black captain Bob Duff became legendary. It was said that the Canterbury scrum never moved backwards when those two were in place.
Those were the days when young men usually saw the age of 30 years as being the best time for retiring from actively playing rugby. Then it was deemed the best time to move into one's work and family career. Dalzell never quite saw it that way. The 1953-54 All Black tour loomed ahead and he had his eye on it.
Sure enough, at the age of 32, unheard as a debutante's age, Nelson Dalzell made the 6 month tour to Britain, Ireland and France with the All Blacks. Others were left to run the sheep farm while he was away.
It is true to say Dalzell made the most of his one All Black experience. His work rate on tour was amazing. He was never bettered by any opponent and he quickly forged a new power locking combination with the great Richard 'Tiny' White of Poverty Bay. The captain of that team was another Canterbury man, Bob Stuart.
Also 32 years old Stuart looked to the 'senior' men of the team to assist him in the tough tour passage. He got exactly that from the two war vets in the second row.
Stuart told me once, and sadly these days it might not be deemed PC to have used such a description, that on that tour it was, said Stuart, 'always great to run to a new scrum and see from my number eight position, ahead of me these two beautiful big bums of White and Dalzell, waiting there for me to put my head down between them and push up against their bony backsides!'
Rugby men will understand the clarity of that portrayal even if others don't!
Dalzell played in all five tests on the tour and in 22 of the 35 games. He was tough and uncompromising. 'Up the Centre' they nicknamed him for the direct way he played the game. Others called him 'Dazzle' or 'Dad' for the fatherly way he went about enjoying all around him. But at the end of the tour, that was that - family and farm now definitely beckoned.
Nelson Dalzell and his wife Shirley raised a fine family and from them the next connections in rugby come through. Shirley's maiden name was Elsom and if you know your All Black stories, you'll know that she was the sister of Allan Elsom who was also an All Black on the long tour of 1953. The marriage therefore made the old teammates also brothers-in-law!
Both of Nelson's and Shirley's sons played for Culverden of course and Anthony had 28 games for Canterbury. As a lock forward of course.
Of the Dalzell daughters one married Graeme Higginson, who was a hard case All Black in the 1980s while still another daughter was also attracted to a lock forward; a young farming student called Braeden Whitelock. It is from that marriage that the four current Whitelocks (of a third generation) have carried the bloodlines on further.
Braeden Whitelock was a Culverden player too and in fact locked the scrum with Higginson briefly for the club in 1979. As a 20-year old Whitelock made the New Zealand Colts out of Culverden and then having headed home had a long tenure with Manawatu. This writer recalls him as a tough uncompromising lock forward in, may I say, a 'Culverden' style , possibly dating back to the way Nelson Dalzell played in the club's colours.
All of the sons of the Whitelock rugby link were born in Palmerston North. Braeden is a farmer near Opiki on the outskirts of that city.
The four boys arrived in the order of George first , then came Adam, Sam and finally Luke.
The order of rising to make the All Blacks' status has not quite followed the order of birth.
George was the first to break through; after being a reserve who was not used v France in Wellington in 2009 he had one test match as a replacement v Italy a week later in Christchurch in 2009, scoring a try in his industrious 30 minutes on the field. Sadly for George his rugby at the top level has been 'only' at Canterbury and Crusaders level. The All Black selectors haven't come calling since.
Sam was next to make full international status. At 2metres 04 (6feet 8inches) has been a regular since his arrival in the team squad in 2010. By the end of 2013 he had totalled 51 internationals, his fiftieth coming on Twickenham against England. He was big part of the success of the All Blacks in their 2011 victory in the final over France.
Earlier on the same tour on 2013 baby Luke Whitelock, as a number eight forward had made his test debut,. His was like his oldest brother George, only being used as a replacement for 20 minutes of play versus Japan in 2013.
So now it is Adam Whitelock who can claim 'All Black' next to his name. Sure, there are those in New Zealand's rugby community who downgrade the sevens somewhat but the NZRU now has given full approval for the 'A.B' nomenclature to be used next to the Sevens players. Therefore Adam has the illustrious status too, well won by himself.
And well done for him keeping on a long and illustrious family's connection to New Zeakand 's national game. I met Nelson Dalzell once and he was a quiet, genuine looking man. Well done to he and his wife for starting a rugby 'Dynasty' and keeping it going so well in the years ahead.
[PS: ...and so it goes on. Next time you're watching The Crusaders and hooker Ben Funnell runs out to play for Canterbury or The Crusaders, you can amaze your family or friends by saying; "See that Funnell? He is another of the family lineage which includes the Whitelock brothers - and dates back to George Nelson Dalzell - the Culverden Sheep farmer!]
In fact Ben Funnell's mother is the sister of Braeden Whitelock's wife so the bloodline to Dalzell might be thinning somewhat - but this wbsite says "never let the facts get in the way of a warm family story!'. The facts are Ben Funnell is a full cousin of the Whitelocks - and the are farming neighbours back home in Linton and Opiki in Manawatu!]
Further note; And still the sporting connection goes on with this remarkable New Zealand sporting family. In December 2013 George Whitelock married Kayla Sharland. The new Mrs Whitelock has attended three Olympic and three Commonwealth Games as a star New Zealand field hockey player. To the end of the 2014 Commonwealth Games she had played in 213 full internationals for the 'Black Ferns.'
Coach Gordon Tietjens and injured captain Eric Rush led the team in Mar del Plata, Argentina. NZ beat Australia 31-12 in the final.
New South Wales and Australia
25 internationals for Australia 1980–84
uth Wales and Australia
6 internationals for Australia 1982–88
New South Wales and Australia
4 internationals for Australia 1982–85
Three brilliant Australian aboriginal brothers who, in combination at either school, club, state or international level, dazzled and delighted rugby crowds with their backline interplay.
The Ella brothers came from a modest family of 12 children in La Perouse, Sydney. Glen and Mark were twins and Gary was 13 months younger. Mark was a flyhalf possessed of brilliant balance, speed and intuition; Glen, a fullback who sometimes played as a centre, and Gary, a long-striding runner, who was used mostly as centre and occasionally on the wing.
The brothers first made headlines as schoolboys. Their uncanny understanding of each other’s play brought suggestions of telepathic aboriginal powers – when viewing some of their tries and plays it was often hard to argue otherwise. From Matraville High in suburban Sydney, all three made the 1977–78 Australian Secondary Schools touring team which went on a nine-week tour of the United Kingdom, France, Japan and the Netherlands.
The team went unbeaten in 16 games. Australian writers were quick to point out that only the 1924–25 All Black ‘Invincible’ team had done as well on tour in Britain. The team also scored 110 tries on the tour (averaging nearly eight a game), and between them the Ella brothers scored a quarter of all the points.
Everywhere the team went the Ella brothers were high in curiosity value for the media. Nor did they let the reporters down. They became stars of the Australian rugby scene before they had even left school. It was inevitable that in time their talents would be utilised in the Wallabies.
Mark was the first to make the grade. After having shone for his club Randwick, Sydney and New South Wales, he toured to Argentina with the Wallabies in 1979 and thereafter became a regular and vital member of Australian test sides. He was made captain for the Wallabies tour to New Zealand in 1982, when aged only 23, and led the team until 1984 when a new coach, Alan Jones, preferred Andrew Slack. That did not deter Ella from playing brilliant rugby and on the 1984 tour of Britain, though seemingly at odds on a personal level with Jones, he was one of the team’s brightest stars. He became the first touring player in Britain to score a try in each of the home internationals, a feat he had also achieved on the schoolboys’ tour seven years earlier (though that team did not play Scotland).
Mark Ella retired at the age of 25, having played 25 internationals, amid rumours that he could no longer tolerate playing in teams coached by Alan Jones. He resisted many lucrative offers to play rugby league and settled into a life as a businessman, TV commentator and newspaper columnist. He returned to Sydney club rugby in 1989 and also played and coached in Italy.
Twin brother Glen and younger brother Gary also played for Randwick in Sydney and both joined Mark in the Wallabies for the 1981–82 tour of Britain. Injuries damaged both their chances of playing consistently on that tour and neither joined Mark in the international matches.
The trio’s best tour for their country was to New Zealand in 1982. Mark was captain and, along with David Campese, he was the team’s star player. Glen was an excellent fullback but could not force his way into the test team ahead of Roger Gould. Gary’s form was such that he made the first two tests at centre. Once again the brothers’ consummate passing and mutual understanding surprised opposition backlines and astonished the hard-to-please New Zealand crowds.
Surprisingly the three Ella brothers never played together in a test match. Gary retired with a knee injury in 1986 and Glen bowed out after being part of yet another Randwick championship winning team in 1987. he became a top coach, leading Australia on many seven aside trips as well as being assistant coach for the Wallabies. Gary returned to play one test against the All Blacks in 1988.
Former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer, who had coached the trio for Randwick and Australia, said ‘the influence of the Ella brothers on Australian rugby has been absolutely immeasurable.’ They were best summed up by the word that was coined by Australian journalists to describe their play – ‘Ellamagic!’
What was different about the British Columbian winger Denny Veitch who played against the British and Irish Lions in Vancouver in 1966?