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Although Southlanders are bought up on the land and are probably more physical than a lot of the urban provinces it is surprising that they are never really produced giant sized locks, but in saying that many Southland tight core men have won great respect from their opposites for their work rate in the second row.
Approx 1940's Southland felt there was a lot of pressure to match the big provinces in producing great locks. Two men who answered their calls was Alf Budd and Dave Brown. They won respect for their strength and Budd stayed playing club and provincial rugby where he dominated lineouts and play in the tight for several seasons. He was one of the key men in the Bluff team and was given All Black honours for 1946 to 1949.
Moving into the 1950's another player to make his mark was the youthful Murray Miller. He became one of the best lineout players of this era and he went on to play for the New Zealand XV. He missed the 1957 and 1958 seasons but decided to make a comeback in 1959 and was part of the reason for the success of the Southland team in its Ranfurly Sheild challenge of that year.
During his time he locked with the likes of Charlie Ballam, Geoff Ronald, Bert Winders and Dave Jack. Another lock not to be forgotten was Tad Porteous for his determined approach to the game.
On to the 1960's and Jack Hazlett was one of those versatile players who could play either lock or prop. It was the latter position that he made his name in rugby.
Gerald Dermody was first noticed in 1965 when he was barely out of High School. He developed quickly and became one of the key men in the Southland team for the next decade. His record of 120 games for Southland was recently broken by Jason Rutledge. In 1968 he played for the Junior All Blacks and for several seasons was on the brink of All Black selection. A general purpose player he won a reputation for his uncomprising approach to the game.
Probably the tallest man ever to play for the province came south in 1967 from Otago. he was Graham Polhen. Another player from that time was Brian King who won selection for the South Island.
A club-mate of King's from Mataura was Gus MacAllister and he partnered Dermody during the late 1960's. The emergence of Frank Oliver was particularly welcomed and he always had class written all over him.
After playing and captaining the Junior All Blacks it seemed it would not be long before he gained full national status but he had to wait until 1976 and the tour to South Africa before he was named.
However, once in, he made every post a winner and continued to play for the All Blacks until 1981 although he moved away from Southland in 1978 firstly to Otago and later to Manawatu.
Another grafted player who helped provide Southland with an embarrassment of riches in the mid 70's was Anton McLean.
Later Murray Leach was in a similar category.
Fergus Dermody provided consistent service for several years and Southland was denied a valuable player when injury confined Murray Howe to little more than a season or two of representative play when he looked like making a major contribution to the province.
One of the more controversial choices at lock was Alan Byrne but he established a record for the province of playing 59 game in succession which broke Robin Archer's record of 57 games in a row. Byrne as a lineout jumper was one of the few players who was able to compete with those bigger men of recent times.
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