Former Kiwis captain dies while out mountain biking

Tony Coll suffered a heart attack while mountain biking. Photo: Twitter
Tony Coll suffered a heart attack while mountain biking. Photo: Twitter
Former Kiwis captain and West Coast legend Tony Coll has died.

Coll played 30 tests for the Kiwis between 1972 and 1982, captaining the side at the 1977 Rugby League World Cup.

Considered one of the last homegrown West Coast Kiwis internationals, Coll was inducted as a New Zealand Rugby Legend in 2007.

As a teenager, Coll spent a year playing in Christchurch for the Marist Western Suburbs club and was a reserve for Canterbury in 1970.

Former Grey District mayor and close friend Tony Kokshoorn said they were biking the Wilderness Trail near Karoro on Thursday morning when Coll suffered a heart attack.

"I was about 10 feet ahead of him and I heard him yell out Koko, which is my nickname. I knew something was wrong straight away," Kokshoorn said.

"He just slumped over and his bike diverted off the track. We worked on him, but it just wasn't to be.

"I'm shocked I've lost my best friend."

Early last year, Kokshoorn saved Coll's life by performing CPR after he suffered a heart attack while standing on Kokshoorn's doorstep.

"He put us on alert after the first [heart attack] but he had started to prove us all wrong. He was so tough and so fit.

"He went out a fighter."

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor posted a tribute to Coll on Twitter on Thursday evening.

"Today the West Coast lost a hero, community leader and wonderful bloke. RIP Tony Coll," O'Connor wrote.

Coll scored 18 tries during his matches for the Kiwis, and kicked his sole goal in his final test, against Papua New Guinea in 1982.

Coll coached the West Coast side in 1986 and 1987.




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