Don Ladner, one of the Kiwis rugby league team's most respected goal kickers, died this week after suffering a heart attack in Reefton.
The former Kiwis fullback, who played eight tests in 1969-70 and scored 76 points, all from goal kicking, was 60-years-old. He died on Monday.
Ladner possessed a prodigious boot, having the ability to kick long-range goals. During his international career he landed 28 goals and 10 field goals.
Although the Kiwis lost to Australia in the first test at Auckland's Carlaw Park in 1969, Ladner marked his debut by scoring all of New Zealand's points in the 10-20 loss with four goals and a field goal. At the time, Ladner was working in the mine near Reefton and was noticed by national selectors after his deeds for West Coast.
The second test was to prove even more memorable, with the Kiwis causing an upset by bowling over the Kangaroos 18-14 and Ladner contributing with six goals. Although one Australian scribe said the Aussies were sending a second-rate team to face a second-rate rugby league country, it is worth noting the side still contained players such as John Sattler, Graeme Langlands and Ron Coote.
Afterwards, the Australians were effusive in their praise of the Kiwis' deeds and New Zealand's supporters were euphoric that the Kiwis had broken a sequence of 14 losses and a draw in their previous 15 tests. Ladner was named by one Sydney commentator as the Kiwis' "man of the match".
The following year, Ladner played in the 0-3 series loss to Great Britain before being selected for the World Cup in the United Kingdom, a tournament won by Australia.
That was to be the end of his international career, with the national selectors opting to pick the more attacking Mike McClennan from Auckland the following year instead.
In 1972, he was unavailable for personal reasons.
Ladner's funeral will be at Glenburnie Golf Club in Reefton at 11am on Monday.
- The Press
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