McLean: Andrew Hore bows out on perfect note

Andrew Hore leaves rugby a winner.

Quite appropriate, really, that Monday's dramatic 24-22 win over Ireland should be his swansong, given the perfect season was the last thing left to tick off on his international CV.

Domestic success might have eluded him but he leaves the All Blacks having won every major international trophy his side chased, including a World Cup.

In between there were hard losses to take, serious injuries to get over and controversial moments that thrust him into the spotlight, somewhere he had always tried to shy away from.

Hore will be remembered as one of New Zealand greatest hookers. He might not have had the leadership skills of Sean Fitzpatrick or Andy Dalton, but he adapted his game admirably with age, was one of the most brutal and accurate men over the ball, had timing and naturalism in his game (especially early), and was largely accurate at set piece.

Few remember him being New Zealand player of the year in 2008, while few would also appreciate the work needed to come back from serious shoulder and ankle injuries.

His All Blacks career lasted 11 years, two weeks and three days, included 83 caps, eight tries and one test as captain after Dan Carter was crook for the World Cup game against Canada.

Although he walks away from the game a winner, there will be some who will never forgive him for his part in gunning down baby seals, and plenty of people in Wales who will never forgive him for his cheap and senseless shot on Bradley Davies. But Hore has never pretended to be anything but himself - a lover of the land, cold beer and pursuits that date back hundreds of years.

He also leaves the game as Taranaki's most capped test player who remained loyal to the province over 12 years, without ever having a real association with it as he became more and more of a stranger because of his All Blacks commitments.

To put Hore's achievements into perspective, you only have to compare his record with two of the province's greatest rakes - Roger Boon and John Major. They had one test cap between them.

While there will be plenty in Taranaki who admire his achievements, there will also be some who remember the less appealing side to his personality, when he was at the heart of a representative side whose behaviour did not reach acceptable standards off the field.

There was also his inability to handle authority if he didn't agree with the individual, most notably Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.

His Super Rugby captaincy style will also be questioned, although his achievements in black are more than likely to overshadow his shortcomings.

Taranaki Daily News