Legendary 1977 Auckland rugby league team reuniting for first time in 40 years
For the first time in 40 years, the legendary 1977 Auckland rugby league side will be reunited.
Famous for making history by beating Australia, Great Britain, and France in the space of three weeks - a feat that hasn't been repeated - all 19 members from the 1977 squad will meet at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday as guests of honour for the Warriors versus Bulldogs match.
They'll get an honorary on-field call-out before they enjoy a weekend of events including a special lunch at Richmond rugby league club on Saturday.
Former Kiwis prop and Auckland player Lyndsay Proctor, the man behind the reunion, said he got the idea when he came across a team photo while cleaning last year.
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"I saw the photo and I looked at all the guys and thought 'we're all still alive,'" Proctor said.
"It's been 40 years exactly this June. So I thought I'd have a go at it and get a hold of some of the guys."
Incidentally, Proctor found it easy to get a hold of all 19 players thanks to an email and said the response was overwhelming.
"I went for the whole 19 and every one of them was as keen as mustard."
Nine players were coming over from Australia, while others were travelling up from the South Island.
They also planned on replicating a team photo from one taken 40 years ago.
The squad, then coached by Bill Sorensen, was well known in New Zealand Rugby League history with 14 players going on to represent the Kiwis, and five named as Kiwi captains over the years.
Three were inducted into New Zealand Rugby League's Legends of League and former Kiwi loose forward and Auckland player Mark Graham was named New Zealand Rugby League's player of the century.
Proctor said he was proud to be a player in such a famous side.
"It was a huge achievement back then," he said.
"It will never be done again, so we've got our little bit of history in there."
Auckland Rugby League's digital media manager, Troy Hardy, found memories of the team and said they paved the way for rugby league in New Zealand.
"These players were trailblazers," Hardy said.
"There's a number of players in there who did something special in regards to making pathways for all professional rugby league players who we now know today."
Hardy said the weekend was a chance to celebrate and acknowledge everything the team had achieved.
"They probably helped put rugby league on the map," he said.
"At the end of the day, rugby union is our national sport, and playing rugby league was the weaker mans game back in those days."
Lyndsay Proctor said anyone who played alongside the Auckland team members back in 1977 was encouraged to join the contingent at Richmond rugby league club on Saturday.
He said a light lunch on Sunday would be the last chance they all get before going their separate ways once again.
"We'll say our farewells and wander off and see if we can all survive another 10 years," Proctor said.