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Sir Fred 'The Needle' Allen passes away

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Latest Rugby News | Saturday April 28 2012 11:10

Sir Fred 'The Needle' Allen passes away

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New Zealand has lost an iconic member of the All Black family.

Sir Fred Allen has passed away at the age of 92.

Oamaru born, Sir Frederick Richard Allen was educated in Christchurch, playing for Canterbury from 1939 to 1941.

During the second world war he served as a lieutenant in the 27th and 30th Battalions, settling in Auckland upon his return.

He played for Auckland and the All Blacks from 1946 to 1949, playing 21 games in the black jersey including 6 tests and all as captain.

But it's as an All Blacks coach that Sir Fred will be most remembered, winning all 14 tests during his reign from 1966 to 69.

Sir Brian Lochore says he considers himself very lucky to have captained the All Blacks throughout his reign.

"So that's something that is very dear to me and we became, because of that, very good friends."

Sir Fred was nicknamed 'the Needle' and former All Blacks centre Grahame Thorne says he had an incredible ability to have players eating out of his hand.

Thorne says Sir Colin Meads, Sir Wilson Whineray and Sir Brian Lochore were all scared of him.

He says his team talks are one of his most enduring memories of Sir Fred.

Thorne says you could have heard a pin drop during his talks as he went through and spoke to each player.

Former All Blacks halfback Chris Laidlaw says Sir Fred's team talks were very effective.

"He wasn't too fussed about tactics, he left the tactics mainly to us, but he would produce a fiery team talk beforehand which would scare the hell out of most of us and the consequences of failure."

Sir Wilson Whineray played under Sir Fred at Auckland and says he demanded precision.

"Doing things properly, less talk and more do, don't make mistakes, pounce on anything they give you and do everything you're asked to do properly and well."

Thorne says Sir Fred preached expansive rugby.

"He was emulating the '45/'46 Kiwis side and playing that sort of rugby, the rugby that they played then, spin the ball, every time there was a line out or a scrum there was always a move on in the backs."

Earlier this week Sir Fred opened a bridge at the Auckland Memorial Park.

Operations manager Sharon Christoffersen says before she dropped Sir Fred home after the opening, he asked if they could stop for a beer - and he was a box of birds.

She says she'll remember him for being an amazing man with plenty of stories to tell.

"He's told me stories of when they used to catch the boat to go over to play rugby in South Africa and how it would take a month to get there and the boys would get a little bit lazy from sitting round on the boat, trying to exercise on the boat for a month."

Ms Christoffersen says you could sit and listen to Sir Fred for hours.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has paid tribute to  Sir Fred Allen.

He's described Sir Fred as one of Auckland's favourite sons.

Sir Fred served as a lieutenant in World War II and upon his return played for Auckland and the All Blacks, before going on to coach the team.

Meanwhile Chiefs and Hurricanes players will wear black armbands in tonight's Super Rugby match to pay their respects to Sir Fred Allen.

There will also be a moment of silence prior to kick-off.

Photo:Getty Images

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