New Zealand All Black great: Sean Fitzpatrick
If there is such a thing as pre-destination, Sean Fitzpatrick - one of New Zealand's greatest ever rugby players - was always meant to be an All Black.
Sean Fitzpatrick or 'Fitzy' is the most-capped All Black of his time, and holds the world record for the most caps as a forward. He was an All Black hooker from 1986 until his retirement in 1998.
He was part of the Auckland Blues provincial rugby team that won the inaugural Super 12 competition in 1996, and led the All Blacks to victory in the Tri-Series against Australia and South Africa that same year.
Fitzpatrick was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1997.
All Black tradition
Sean Fitzpatrick was born and grew up in Auckland, where he started his career playing provincial rugby.
His father, Brian ‘BBJ’ Fitzpatrick has been an All Black from 1951 - 1954, so Sean was brought up in the All Blacks tradition.
The younger Fitzpatrick was set to become one of New Zealand’s rugby greats from his debut - at age 23 - with the All Blacks in the 1986 test series against France. The following year, Fitzpatrick played in the All Black team at the 1987 Rugby World Cup tournament.
He became All Black captain in 1992, and played a total of 121 international matches for the New Zealand side, including a record-breaking 92 test matches.
Fitzpatrick has gone down in New Zealand rugby history as having captained the most All Blacks test matches as a captain, and having been part of more test match wins than any other player.
He led the All Black side to a clean sweep victory in the first Tri-Nations series in 1996.
Built for the game
At 1.83m tall and solidly-built, Fitzpatrick was built for the game of rugby.
He is considered one of the most durable players of all time, and was well-respected by his team mates on the field.
Fitzpatrick was seen as extremely versatile in his playing style as he handled both tight and loose plays skillfully, and was extremely accurate with his lineout throws.
Greatest All Blacks captain
Fitzpatrick held the position of captain for the All Blacks from 1992 until his retirement in 1998.
He led the All Blacks to victory during the British Lions tour in 1993, with a convincing win at the series final.
Fitzpatrick - along with fellow greats Ian Jones, Andrew Mehrtens, Jeff Wilson, Jonah Lomu and Zinzan Brooke - was part of a formidable All Black lineup for the 1995 Rugby World Cup. However, his team lost the final against the Springboks, despite having convincingly defeated all their opponents.
Fitzpatrick’s influence among his fellow team mates was so great that in 1997, while he was carrying an injury, All Blacks coach John Hart kept him on as captain to help boost team morale.
He made his final test appearance in late November 1997 as a substitute against Wales.
Life after rugby
Since ending his test career, Fitzpatrick has worked as a rugby consultant, commentator and motivational speaker in New Zealand and the UK.
In early 1999, he was appointed as a rugby consultant to the NZRU with responsibility for player development and liaison.
He moved to the UK with his family in 2004 for "a belated OE", and lives in London.
Sean Fitzpatrick is one of six high-profile All Black greats who have signed up as 2011 Rugby World Cup ambassadors for New Zealand.
New Zealand rugby ambassadors
NZ All Black great: Andrew Mehrtens
NZ All Black great: David Kirk
NZ All Black great: John Kirwan
NZ All Black great: Jonah Lomu
NZ All Black great: Michael Jones
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