At last, the book they said would never be published. Few New Zealand rugby personalities can truly be labelled "legends". Sir Fred Allen, though, is one of those rare exceptions. Along with the great Colin Meads, Allen is an icon of the game, universally loved and a true New Zealand hero. For years, the man who famously captained and then coached the All Blacks unbeaten through 37 matches in a golden era from 1966-68, has resisted the urgings of writers and publishers to tell his story. That is until now. At 90 years of age (he is New Zealand's second oldest living All Black) and recently knighted, the fit, razor sharp Allen has relented and will tell his incredible life story - impoverished childhood, War Hero, Rugby Legend, successful businessman, knight of the realm. His biography will be a blockbuster. Before he became All Blacks coach in 1966, Fred "The Needle" had already lived an extraordinary life. He served as a lieutenant in the 30th and 27th Battalions during WWII and saw more action than most in his role as a New Zealand commando. In the Pacific, he was badly wounded in the neck, but refused hospitalisation and instead chose to lead another mission with "my men".
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At the end of the war in 1945, Allen made his name as a player as a brilliant five-eighth for the famous and much-loved "Kiwis", the 2nd NZEF team which toured Britain and France. He then went on to captain the All Blacks in the two-test series against Australia 1946, in Australia 1947 and South Africa 1949, appearing in two tests in each series. Fred also captained Auckland and the North Island from 1946-48. Allen was one of the greatest post-war All Black backs, playing equally well at either first or second five-eighth. He had an outstanding record as selector-coach of the Auckland team 1957-63, including their 26-match tenure of the Ranfurly Shield, and of New Zealand 1966-68, during which the All Blacks won all 14 tests played. In this eagerly awaited book, Allen will talk about his entire life, including his army years. He will discuss with intimate knowledge and from close-hand experiences some of the greatest players ever to have worn the silver fern. He will offer observations from his role as coach of two of the greatest teams through two of the greatest eras in New Zealand rugby.
And he will, for the first time, talk about his decision to step down as coach of the All Blacks - a decision which sent shockwaves through New Zealand rugby. His army exploits during World War II - of which he has rarely spoken - will leave readers flabbergasted. Fred Allen remains a true New Zealand hero.