Good look at Murdoch's early years

Steve Hepburn reviews Murdoch: The All Black Who Never Returned by Ron Palenski. Published by Upstart Press.

Keith Murdoch has played 145 fewer tests than Richie McCaw but has probably had more written about him than the flanker from Kurow.

So does a new book offer anything more we did not know about Murdoch?

Palenski, who has written some fine sporting books over the years, gives a good look at Murdoch and his early life.

He seemed like a decent sort of bloke. Had a bit of a rage on him and was no academic but he appeared to have good manners.

These days he would have had a minder and manager to keep him in line.

The actual transgression that made him famous - punching a security guard and being sent home from the 1972-73 All Black tour - is well documented as well as the aftermath.

Palenski acknowledges there was fault on all sides but does not make a scapegoat of All Black manager Ernie Todd.

Todd was put in an impossible position by the demands of the home unions and their insistence Murdoch be given his marching orders.

Palenski argues the way the New Zealand Rugby Football Union pandered to the home unions would never happen today and helped shift the tide in world rugby.

The author had nearly finished the book when Murdoch died in Western Australia earlier this year.

Murdoch never got an apology from New Zealand Rugby and one hopes, even now he has gone, it is not too late to send one to his family.

Steve Hepburn is ODT sports editor.

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