Humble All Blacks' hooker low key to the end

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013
Andrew Hore
Getty Images
UNDERSTATED: There was little fanfare as Andrew Hore announced his retirement.

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OPINION: Andrew Hore's never been short of a word or two, but it was no surprise he has announced his retirement without any fanfare.

There is an irony to the fact such a low-key bloke will be remembered for some highly public moments.

He grabbed headlines for a hunting indiscretion, a king hit and an unexpected exit at the Hurricanes.

But it'd be unfair if that was his legacy. Hore was a brilliant hooker, arguably the best in the world in 2008, and a bright personality.

His strength over the ball was immense and he had an innate ability to burrow through a ruck.

Hore's banter over the years has lightened the mood in a sport that can take itself too seriously at times.

The dry-witted quips of a central Otago farmer, always delivered dead-pan, have been directed at players, referees and media alike.

A collection of the Maniototo Maggots rake's best quotes would make a good coffee table read.

"Is there a new rule that you can't tackle Dan Carter?" Hore asked referee Chris Pollock after he penalised Ma'a Nonu for a late tackle on the Crusaders first five-eighth in 2011.

He then cheekily suggested touch judge Shane McDermott had an ulterior motive for ruling against the Hurricanes.

"He used to play in my club team and my brother used to keep him out and I think he was trying to get one back."

Hore once asked if this rugby writer was "some kind of third sex" for not predicting a Hurricanes win in The Dominion Post's weekly picks.

And he offered this gem after his final match for the franchise.

"The good thing about getting back to the farm is the sheep don't care what you look like."

But despite his ragged appearance the hooker appeared to care deeply about what he did and took it seriously.

That was evident when he fronted media in London following his swinging arm on Welsh lock Bradley Davies.

Hore was close to tears that day, clean shaven, genuine and decidedly uncomfortable in a dry-cleaned suit.

Jandals, T-shirts, unkempt beards and a quiet pint were more his style.

Front row teammate John Schwalger says Hore could switch into game mode in a heart-beat.

"He always said once you put your boots on it's time to switch on."

Players knew about it if they stuffed up on Hore's watch, but Schwalger said the old school toughness didn't last.

"For me coming through the grades they used to call us the city boys and we knew the Naki guys as the farmers. We never really mixed, but when I joined the Hurricanes, Horey and Jason Eaton and Paul Tito were some of the first guys to really welcome me into the team.

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"I never thought I'd be real close mates with a farmer, but the Hurricanes did that for me. It opened my eyes that it didn't matter where you were from. I'm proud to call Horey my friend."

Hore shared the sentiment. When he left the Hurricanes he remarked he'd never be short of a feed or a roof over his head should he ever find himself at a loose end in Porirua.

Hore danced to his own beat. He liked a mid-week beer and was a regular at the old Posties Whistle in Khandallah during the Super Rugby season.

Coach Mark Hammett wasn't so impressed and it was one of several issues on which the pair didn't see eye to eye.

Hore was hurt, but largely kept his thoughts to himself. He nearly packed up and went to Agen in 2012, but didn't. Perhaps it was just too far from his farm.

Eaton once predicted Hore's retirement ceremony would involve his boots, a back paddock, a bonfire and a couple of beers.

Perhaps that's where he is today.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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