Wellington (AFP)

Former second row Andy Haden, who had 41 caps with the All Blacks including eight as captain, died at 69 from cancer, the New Zealand Federation said on Wednesday.

Imposing second row, Haden played 117 matches in total in the black jersey including 41 international test matches, the first against the British and Irish Lions in 1977, the last against Argentina in 1985.

He was "regarded abroad as the main obstacle to overcome in order to be able to contemplate a victory against New Zealand", estimated the writer specialist of the rugby, Bob Howitt, who spoke of Haden as a player without equal on the international scene "to his post.

Off the field, Haden fought to give professional status to rugby, with a stated goal of becoming the "first rugby millionaire", which prompted him to come and play in the 1970s in Europe, France and Italy. , where the best could hope to make a living from their sport.

"More than anyone, it is to him that we owe the accession of rugby to professional status," paid tribute to his former club, Auckland Ponsonby rugby, "today's players who earn well their lives have many reasons to thank him ".

"I remember the way he looked after the young players coming to the All Blacks, and how he defended the rights of the players during and after his playing career," said New Zealand president Bill Osborne, former teammate.

After her career, Haden successfully set up an agency to represent players, but also model Rachel Hunter.

Appointed ambassador for the 2011 World Cup in his country, he finally had to resign from this honorary post after controversial comments, deemed sexist and racist.

© 2020 AFP