Murdoch owed apology by NZR, Palenski argues

Ron Palenski
Ron Palenski
The author of a new book on Keith Murdoch says the former All Black and Otago prop is overdue an apology from New Zealand Rugby for the despicable way he was treated.

Dunedin author Ron Palenski has written a book Murdoch: The All Black who never returned, about the prop who was controversially sent home from the 1972-73 All Black tour of the northern hemisphere after an incident at a Welsh hotel.

The book outlines all the details of Murdoch’s life and his expulsion from the tour.

Murdoch lived most of the rest of his life in Australia and died in Western Australia in February this year.

Palenski said he enjoyed writing the book and wanted to set the record straight.

"The story needed to be told. There have just been so many reports stated which do not say or explain what actually happened."

Palenski, who was a sports journalist for many years, did not cover the tour and met Murdoch just once.

He said from talking to people, Murdoch was a quiet person, a very loyal sort of guy, who was very proud of being of an All Black.

"He was definitely not the thug  he was painted.

"I felt quite sorry for the guy in the end. He was not a victim of circumstances but more of things that were out of his control. He had been treated despicably by the rugby authorities.

"Imagine if this had happened these days. There would be lawyers involved, counsellors, people all over the place. Payments put out. But they didn’t do any of that. They hung the bugger out to dry."

Palenski said he did not necessarily blame the people involved at the time but felt someone should "acknowledge the faults of the past".

He was not holding out for an apology but said it would be a pretty simple thing to do.

Palenski outlines in the book the life of Murdoch and the pressure put on  tour manager Ernie Todd by the home unions who wanted Murdoch to be sent home.

He also suggests in the book the expulsion of Murdoch led to NZR standing up more to the home unions over time.

NZR sent Murdoch’s All Black cap to his sister in Perth after he died. He was buried in the small Western Australian town of Carnarvon in April.

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