Former All Blacks lock Sam Strahan has passed away suddenly at his home in Kiwitea, aged 74.
Remembered by the Manawatu Rugby Union as one of the "greatest players to pull on the green and white jersey" Strahan played 45 games for the All Blacks, including 17 tests, most alongside legendary late All Black Sir Colin Meads.
Manawatu Rugby Union chairman Tim Myers said it was a sad day for the union.
"We remember Sam as not just a great rugby player but as a true gentleman. Sam was one of New Zealand's great custodians of our game. He was proud of the Manawatu and we were proud to have him. Sam was as kind as he was humble and he had time for everybody.
"He will be sorely missed."
Former Manawatu Rugby Union chairman and close friend Ian McAffer told the Manawatu Standard that Strahan's death came as a shock, saying he was fit and full of life, and had just recently delivered the eulogy at the funeral of another former All Black, Brian 'Jazz' Muller.
"I remember him saying that meant he was the last surviving All Black forward from the 1967 Lions match at Twickenham," McAffer said.
Strahan was a fast riser through the rugby ranks, being picked for Manawatu in 1965 after just three games of senior club rugby. He went on to play 70 matches for the province, and made his All Blacks debut against Australia in Wellington in 1967.
After retiring from playing rugby in the mid-70s, Strahan took up coaching and was an active member of the rugby community.
He leaves behind two sons and a daughter.