Sport | Rugby

All Blacks legend Sid Going remembered by team-mate as ‘real hero’

Sir Bryan Williams, left, with his friend Sid Going in Paihia. Photo / Supplied

This article was first published by RNZ.

The late Sid Going, who died on Friday aged 80, has been remembered as “a real hero” by one of his team-mates.

Going (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine) was part of a famed Northland rugby family and played 86 matches for the All Blacks across a decade in the 1960s and 70s.

When Sir Bryan Williams first saw Going at work, Williams was just a schoolboy, watching the halfback doing some “amazing things” for Northland and the All Blacks.

“He became a real hero of mine, and then two or three years later I was in the same All Blacks team as he was, so suddenly I was playing with someone I absolutely revered.”

They went on to play alongside each other for the best part of a decade.

Going was “lethal” on the field and would have shone in any position, Sir Bryan said.

“He was a truly great player, he had the ability to do so many things, running, passing, tackling, kicking, and just reading the play. He just seemed to be able to find a way to get to the try line.”

The pair were friends off the field, too - and that continued long after their playing years ended. They spent time together in Paihia with their wives just two months ago, and were captured in a photograph together which Sir Bryan said he would cherish.

“Sid was a thorough gentleman. He was softly spoken, kind, just a really decent, decent man.”

Together the pair made history as two of the first four non-white rugby players to represent New Zealand on a tour of South Africa.

They were part of the team that toured South Africa in 1970, as players who were dubbed “honorary whites” - a term Sir Bryan said was used to justify their participation during apartheid.

“All Black teams prior to that had not included Māori or Pacific players, so it was history-making.”

Funeral preparations under way

In the past few days the family had spent special time together remembering a great dad, rugby player and role model, Sid Going’s eldest son, Milton Going, said.

The number of messages from people who knew him through rugby, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the community showed the example he set in many aspects of his life, he said.

“We’re just proud of what he’s done, and how he’s lived his life.”

Milton Going said his father was humble and often bemused by the attention he got at events when he was invited as the “main attraction”.

“He was kind of oblivious to that most of the time, and quite shy, and wondering what all the fuss was about. That’s the sort of person he was,” he said.

Sid Going’s funeral will be held on Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the far north town of Maromaku, where he grew up.

By Lauren Crimp of RNZ.