Stars of club make experts' top 15

Southland Times rugby writer LOGAN SAVORY reveals the all-time Star Rugby Club 15, which life members Alan Blackler and Bob Donnelly, along with Savory, put together to honour 125 years of the club.

15. Brian McKechnie

McKechnie was an ultra-gifted athlete, representing New Zealand at rugby and cricket, making him one of Star's most famous identities.

The first five-eighth or fullback – dubbed the Colt – played 15 matches for the All Blacks between 1977 and 1981 which included 10 tests.

Probably McKechnie's most famous rugby moment was when he kicked the penalty goal which gave the All Blacks a win over Wales in 1978. The penalty came from the lineout from which Andy Haden made his infamous dive.

14. Mana Harrison

Harrison has probably been Star's best player in the past decade. He is understood to have scored more than 100 tries for the blue-and-whites during his time in the No 14 jersey since he arrived in the premier team in 2000 after leaving Southland Boys' High School.

Harrison has also gone on to play 28 games for Southland.

13. Billy Stead

Billy Stead played 32 games for the All Blacks with 12 of them as captain. He played his first game for the All Blacks in 1903 and played his last test against the British and Irish Lions as a 30-year-old in 1908. Stead has in the past been regarded as the club's best player by many.

He was an active player for the club for 16 years but also filled many other roles for Star, including as a coach and manager of different teams.

12. John "Darky" Beazley

Beazley is regarded as one of the best defensive players to play for the Waverley Park-based club with his ability in the tackle shutting down many opposition backlines over the years.

Beazley – who was commonly known as "Darky" within the club – played for Southland in 1965 and 1966.

McKechnie credited playing inside Beazley in the Star backline as a key to his rugby development.

11. Lin Booth

Booth is one of just two Star players who have gone on to play 100 games for Southland. Booth was an exceptionally gifted centre who also played on the wing.

He played for Southland from 1969 through to 1979 and was the fourth centurion for Southland.

10. James "Wampy" Bell

The man more commonly known as "Wampy" Bell has legendary status within the Star Rugby Club as he played a key role on and off the field in its success during its first 50 years of existence. He went on to play for both New Zealand Maori and the All Blacks.

Bell was a superb player with those who watched him describing his pace off the mark as exceptional. It wasn't just his ability to carve through opposition defence which was a shining light, he was also a leader within the club. Under his guidance as captain, in 1929 Star won the Galbraith Shield and Southland won the Ranfurly Shield.

The Bell family has been a major part of the Star club with his son Lindsay also performing a pivotal role as a player and administrator.

9. Alan Blackler

Blacker played 14 seasons of senior rugby for Star both at first five-eighth and at halfback. Blacker had a crisp pass and was very effective at the base of the scrum and ruck. Blackler went on to play 49 games for Southland and has also been a major figure at administration level within the club.

The Blackler family has also played a major role in keeping the Star Rugby Club running during the past 50 years.

8. Bob Barber

Barber was a strong No 8 who ran well with the ball and caused opposition defence troubles.

He represented North Otago as an 18-year-old and also represented Canterbury, but he played the majority of his provincial rugby with Southland. Barber played for Southland between 1969 and 1976. He also played for South Island, New Zealand Maori and the All Blacks where he had six games on the 1974 tour to Australia.

7. John Hardie

Hardie is part of this year's Star premier team and has only been at the club since 2007.

However, during his time with the club has made a big impression on those that have watched him go about his business. Since Hardie linked up with Star he has gone on to play for both Southland and the Highlanders at Super Rugby level.

Hardie is, like most good flankers, strong in the tackle and at the breakdown but has also been a key playmaker with ball in hand.

6. Francis Glasgow

Glasgow played 35 matches for the All Blacks between 1905 and 1908.

National representation came first for the preliminary matches in Australasia, and then on the 1905-06 "Originals" tour to Britain.

Glasgow was one of the tour successes, playing in 27 of the 35 matches, including all five internationals.

With eight tries, five conversions and a penalty goal he was the leading points scorer in the forward pack.

5. George Purdue

George Purdue was a member of a prominent Southland rugby family and the third to become an All Black, following his father Edward (or Pat) and his uncle Charles.

He played seven matches for the All Blacks in 1931 and 1932 where he was described as a big forward of his era at 1.88m and nearly 95kg, He started his rugby career as a siderow forward but in the switch from the 2-3-3 scrum he became a lock in the new 3-4-1 formation.

Purdue represented Southland from 1929 to 1934.

4. Josh Bekhuis

Bekhuis has followed in his father Richard's footsteps and played for the Star club at lock. Bekhuis junior has played more than 50 games for Southland and is now a key member of the Highlanders.

He is a lock and go-to-man at lineout time and is effective around the field.

3. Barry Leonard

Leonard was regarded as a very astute and strong prop who played for the Star club for more than a decade and represented Southland.

Leonard has coached at junior and senior level within the club and also coached the Southland team.

2. Corey Flynn

The Flynn name is big when it comes to the Star Rugby Club.

Corey's uncles and in particular his father Shaun have been key figures in the club's history. Flynn junior took his first steps into senior rugby with Star before he headed to play his rugby in Canterbury.

Flynn has since gone on to play 12 tests for the All Blacks and has also been a prominent player in the successful Crusaders Super Rugby franchise.

1. Phil "Scruffy" Butt

"Scruffy" was one of the true legends of the Star club with his deeds both on the field and off the field. Butt was a loose forward when he first made the Star senior team but was transformed into a prop under the guidance of coach Bob Donnelly. He went on to play 100 games at prop for Southland between 1970 and 1980.

He was known as a hard-nosed prop and was highly regarded by not only his team-mates but also his opposition.

RESERVES: Jim McKenzie (prop), Harry Keil (hooker), Snow Martin (lock), Shaun Flynn (No 8/prop), Wayne Tinker (halfback), Isaac Jenkins (utility back), Murray Mitchell (wing).

The Southland Times