'D-day is April 15': Grizz Wyllie gets ready to bid farewell to Canterbury

Alex 'Grizz' Wyllie is on the move to Tasman territory after selling the final block of land on a...
Alex 'Grizz' Wyllie is on the move to Tasman territory after selling the final block of land on a property in Balcairn. Photo: Geoff Sloan
There were lines Grizz Wyllie wasn’t afraid to cross as an abrasive loose forward - and now the Canterbury rugby legend and former All Blacks coach is finally willing to leave his beloved province.

Wyllie and his partner Jenny Anderson are relocating to Waikawa Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound, with the 76-year-old revealing he recently sold the third and final block of land at his North Canterbury property.

Wyllie, who played 210 games for Canterbury between 1964 and 1979, farmed in Omihi before moving to Balcairn, south of Amberley, about 15 years ago.

Grizz Wyllie and his partner Jenny Anderson. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Grizz Wyllie and his partner Jenny Anderson. Photo: Geoff Sloan
“D-day is April 15,” he said of his final day as a Canterbury resident.

Wyllie and Anderson have had a house in Waikawa Bay for about two years and rather than commute they are making a permanent move.

“We’ve got a boat up there, we’ve always had connections in the Sounds,” he said.

Grizz Wyllie at an All Blacks training session in November 1990. Photo Mark Leech / Getty Images
Grizz Wyllie at an All Blacks training session in November 1990. Photo Mark Leech / Getty Images
This is a lifestyle move, working the land is not on the agenda.

“There’s just a lawn to mow and hedges to trim,” he said.

Wyllie has lived exclusively in Canterbury when in New Zealand, while his coaching career led to stints in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Argentina.

A late-bloomer as a lawn bowler, Wyllie turned out for Woodend and Rangiora; he has also been a member of the Picton club for two years.

Wyllie, an identity in North Canterbury thanks to his playing and coaching exploits, insisted he would not be lost to the area.

“It’s not far to come back, there’s plenty of things to come back to,” he said.

Grizz Wyllie before the All Blacks tour of Britain in October 1972. Photo: Central Press / Hulton...
Grizz Wyllie before the All Blacks tour of Britain in October 1972. Photo: Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
While Canterbury has always been friendly territory for Wyllie, the same can’t be said for Tasman, thanks to Marlborough’s famous Ranfurly Shield challenge at Lancaster Park in 1973.

Wyllie captained Canterbury during that 13-6 defeat and over the years he has copped some gentle ribbing when up north - particularly when he coached the Red Devils in the NPC second division in 2002.

“One or two of them do that (remind Wyllie about the game), but there’s quite a few Canterbury people up there anyhow,” he said.

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