| New Zealand News | Monday October 22 2012 15:40
All Black great Sir Wilson Whineray has died.
He passed away peacefully this morning at 3:20am at Auckland Hospital, where he had been for a month, with family at his bedside.
NZRU chairman Mike Eagle says it's a sad day when New Zealand has lost one of its great heroes and the rugby community has lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby.
Sir Wilson also made significant contributions to the community through his work with charities and in the business arena.
Sir Wilson Whineray was 21 when he made his All Blacks test debut in 1957.
He captained the side 67 times. He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1965. He received his knighthood in 1994.
Sir Wilson was 77.
Former team mate Stan Meads says Whineray had a profound effect on himself and his brother Colin.
"We were just two boys from the country and Colin would be the first to say it, would say that Wilson was the guy who picked him up and got him to take his life a step further."
Meads says he was equally as comfortable in a dinner jacket as he was in an All Black jersey.
"He was just a brilliant leader and when you tour the UK you do get a lot of the black tie dinners, a lot of people there from high-up places but Wilson was right at home with that, he could handle it."
Another former team mate, Chris Laidlaw says he had a mystical quality about him.
"He had enormous grace. There was an extra level to which Wilson could rise. In a sense he was the gentleman and the rest were something less than that in the All Blacks in those days."
Laidlaw says he was everything you could ask for in a leader.
"By the time he played his last test series against the Springboks, he had a team that was all completely on the same page as he."
NZRU chairman Mike Eagle says it's a sad day, when New Zealand has lost one of its great heroes, and the rugby community has lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby.
"Not only was he a fine rugby player but he was a gentleman and well thought of throughout the country."
Newstalk ZB's Murray Deaker says Sir Wilson had a dry sense of humour and a real passion for life.
"As well as being a magnificent rugby captain, he became a leader of our society, a business leader and somebody who so many people looked up to."
Sir Wilson is survived by his wife Elisabeth Lady Whineray, one son, two daughters and five grandchildren.