New Zealand Rugby mourns the loss of Peter Henderson
New Zealand's rugby community is mourning the loss of former All Black Peter Henderson who passed away earlier this week, aged 88.
Peter Henderson was born on 18 April 1926 in Gisborne. One of the quickest men to ever pull on the black jersey, Henderson made his All Blacks debut shortly after his 23rd birthday and played in 19 matches in 1949 and 50, including seven Tests.
Known to his All Blacks teammates as Sammy, Henderson was an extremely talented athlete. He came to rugby from rowing and was the national 100 yards sprint champion in 1948 and 1949, representing New Zealand at the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland. After seven seasons of first class rugby he then made the move to league and spent seven seasons playing that code in Britain.
"It is with sadness that we mark the passing of Peter Henderson," said New Zealand Rugby President Ian MacRae.
"Peter was a handy player with incredible speed and a great tackle as well as being a good man and a very proud All Black, who regularly attended All Blacks events and Test matches.
"I am sure that in coming days Peter will be fondly remembered across New Zealand, in particular by the Hawke's Bay and Wanganui rugby communities, for his performances for the All Blacks. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."
Henderson made his first class rugby debut for Hawke's Bay as a teenager, coming from the Wairoa Celtic club and spending two seasons with the Magpies. His work as a dental mechanic took him to Wanganui and the Kaierau Club. It was at this time that he focused on track and field to help with his rugby.
He earned selection for the 1949 All Blacks tour of South Africa and played in 16 matches on that tour, including all four Tests, where his speed and style of play were well-suited to the hard and fast South African tracks. He was the team's top tryscorers on the tour (with seven) and was one of a small group of players to score a try in his Test debut. A further three All Blacks appearances came in 1950 when he played in three Tests against the British and Irish Lions and added another try to his tally.
In 1950 Henderson switched codes, joining the Huddersfield club in England where he became one of the club's most popular overseas players. He went on to play over 250 games for the club and scored 211 tries.
Henderson's switch to league saw him banned from rugby, with the ban eventually lifted in 1989. He received his cap in 2009 when New Zealand Rugby retrospectively presented caps to All Blacks from 1946 to 1996.
For more information, view his profile on allblacks.com