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Former All Blacks great Wilson Whineray dies aged 77

FORMER New Zealand captain Sir Wilson Whineray has died in Auckland aged 77.

Whineray played 77 matches for the All Blacks, including 32 Tests, and captained the side 67 times.

He was 21 when he made his All Blacks Test debut in May 1957 against Australia in Sydney, and was quickly elevated to the captaincy for the 1958 Series against Australia.

He was just 23 and for a long time he was the youngest All Blacks captain.

Whineray retired from rugby in 1966 and went on to have a successful business career as well as remaining in the game in a number of advisory roles before becoming the NZRU patron in 2003.

New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Mike Eagle said: "Today is a very sad day. We have lost one of New Zealand's great heroes and for the rugby community we have lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby.

"Regarded as one of the great All Blacks legends, Sir Wilson also made significant contributions to the community through his work with sport, charities and business.

"We extend our condolences to Lady Elisabeth and to their family as they remember a much-loved husband, a father and a grandfather."