Former All Black ahead of his time

Gary Seear on the charge for the All Blacks against the Wallabies in 1978. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Gary Seear on the charge for the All Blacks against the Wallabies in 1978. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Former All Black and Otago forward Gary Seear was ahead of his time.

Seear, who died in Christchurch early yesterday, aged 65, after a long illness, was a forward who did not always play the game as expected in the 1970s.

The only All Black from Bayfield High School, he used to roam the field and also had a handy boot.

When Seear brought up his 100th game for Otago someone quipped - ``No8 Gary Seear has played 100 games for Otago and 85 of them were at second five-eighth.''

Seear, called ``Milk Bottle'' because of his fair complexion and blonde hair, or ``Seagull'', for the way he played the game, was a popular figure for Otago in the 1970s and '80s.

He was a No8 but started his career as a lock.

He popped up all round the field and played what was seen as a loose game in those days.

The way the game has evolved, Seear would have been right at home in modern matches.

He went straight into the Southern club seniors upon leaving school and made his debut for Otago in 1971.

In 1973 he played lock for the New Zealand Juniors in their upset win over the All Blacks at Carisbrook.

The team was coached by former Otago coach Eric Watson.

Seear captained the Juniors the following year.

Seear, who played 116 games for Otago, was first picked for the All Blacks for the 1976 tour to South Africa.

He was selected as a lock but did not play a test.

Upon his return he decided to move to No8, where he played for the rest of his career.

He made his test debut against France in Toulouse in November 1977.

Seear was also a handy long-range penalty kicker and he landed a goal from 45m out in Paris in a winning performance by the All Blacks over France, a week after his test debut.

Seear played all four tests for the All Blacks on the grand slam tour in 1978.

He played his last test for the All Blacks in 1979, a loss to Australia.

He played 34 games for the All Blacks, including 12 tests and spent some time in Italy near the end of his career.

He coached the Southern seniors in 1989.

He continued to play for Otago until 1982. Seear, who is survived by his wife Julie and two children, worked in real estate in Christchurch.

His funeral is in Christchurch on Monday.


Gary's sister, Annette Seear, of Dunedin, was a journalist with Radio NZ, an author and publisher. The Seears were, literally, Vikings.