Born: 25 July, 1966 – Kawerau
Test record: 20 Tests – 4 tries, 60 goals, 1 field goal (137 points)
Tours: 1993 tour of Great Britain and France, 1994 tour of Papua New Guinea, 1995 World Cup, 1998 tour of Great Britain

Daryl Halligan was one of a clutch of Kiwi rugby union converts in the early-1990s that revolutionised the role goalkicking plays in modern rugby league, while he racked up 20 Test appearances in his adopted code despite fierce competition for New Zealand wing spots.

A fullback for Waikato in union, Halligan became arguably the greatest goalkicker the game had seen and the first player to reach 2,000 premiership points. While his play on the flank is often overlooked and he was maligned for a lack of pace, Halligan was an outstanding positional winger, knew his way to the tryline and was rarely outclassed by his opposite number.

Halligan switched to North Sydney at the end of 1990, frustrated at continually being overlooked for All Blacks selection, despite the defection of first-choice fullbacks John Gallagher and Matthew Ridge to rugby league. He was a raging success for the Bears in 1991, topping the premiership in pointscoring and breaking the club’s season record with 196 points. Proving quickly that he was no one-trick pony, Halligan led Norths in tries with 13 (also sixth-equal in the premiership).

The 25-year-old was instrumental to the Bears’ finals charge and kicked six goals in the defeat of Manly in the major preliminary semi-final, but a horror day with the boot a week later against Penrith (one goal from four attempts) was a major factor in the club missing out on a long-awaited grand final berth.

Norths missed the finals in 1992 but Halligan again led the field in pointscoring with 168 and made his Test debut for the Kiwis. Halligan came off the bench in the one-off Test against Papua New Guinea – kicking three-from-three on debut – and in both Tests against the touring Lions. He booted the winning field goal as New Zealand pipped Great Britain 15-14 in the first encounter.

With his kicking percentage rising higher into the 80s, Halligan won a third consecutive premiership pointscoring title in 1993. On the international scene, ‘DJ’ played in all three Tests against Australia – starting in the first two and kicking five goals – and toured Great Britain and France at the end of the year. He was dropped after the first Test loss at Wembley but returned to score 16 points (one try, six goals) against France and finished as the group’s top scorer with 85 points.

Halligan sought an off-season release from the Bears and joined Canterbury in 1994. The move reaped huge benefits for Halligan and his new club. Halligan was the competition’s leading scorer for a record-equalling fourth consecutive year and smashed the Bulldogs’ season record with 270 points. He also led the side in tries with 12 and was named Dally M Winger of the Year. His coolness under pressure was illustrated by a nicely taken extra-time field goal in the major semi-final against Canberra to put his club into the grand final 19-18. Halligan kicked two goals in the decider but his team was humbled 36-12 by the Raiders.

After scoring 30 of New Zealand’s 58 points in two Tests on the 1994 tour of Papua New Guinea, Halligan played two Tests against each of France and Australia in 1995 but was unable to nail down a starting wing spot with the likes of Sean Hoppe, Jason Williams and the versatile Henry Paul to compete with. He continued to blossom at club level however, scoring a team-high 12 tries and 222 points – behind only countryman Ridge in the Winfield Cup’s pointscoring stakes. His 26 points against Souths also equalled Terry Lamb’s points in a match record for Canterbury. Halligan helped the Super League-torn Bulldogs avenge their grand final defeat from a year earlier and stage a remarkable run through the finals, which culminated in a 17-4 victory in the decider over hot favourites Manly.

After kicking 16 goals during the finals, Halligan was chosen in New Zealand’s World Cup squad but did not play a match in the tournament. The Bulldogs’ terrible premiership defence in 1996 saw Halligan post a career-low 146 points and miss the Kiwis’ post-season Tests, but he returned to the national side for the inaugural Anzac Test against Super League Australia in 1997 – crossing for a try and kicking three goals in the 34-22 defeat – and finished third in the rebel competition’s pointscoring with 182, in addition to his 86 points scored in six World Club Challenge games.

The pointscoring feast continued in 1998. Halligan was third in the premiership with 256 points, including a club record 28-point haul against Gold Coast. His 10 goals in that match broke another club record, which he equalled again later in the season against Wests. Halligan made a 48-point contribution during Canterbury’s amazing sudden-death charge to the grand final from ninth place, but it was one goal that etched his name into finals folklore. The Bulldogs had come from 18-2 down against the Eels in the preliminary final to be just two points behind in the dying minutes with Halligan’s conversion kick to come. Halligan had already drilled a difficult attempt to narrow the deficit to six, and he held his nerve to land one of the all-time great pressure goals from the left-hand touchline to send the game into extra-time. Canterbury went on to win 32-20, but Halligan tasted grand final defeat for the second time a week later to the Broncos.

Halligan’s form earned another international recall. He scored a try and kicked four goals in the deciding Test loss to Australia, before booting 14 goals in the three-Test series against Great Britain in England, won 2-0 by the Kiwis. It was to be the mercurial wingman’s Kiwis swansong. His total of 137 points was the second-highest in Tests for the Kiwis at the time behind Ridge, having edged past legendary fullback Des White (132) during his last international appearance.

With 210 points in 1999, Halligan was again third in the NRL’s pointscoring and equalled his own club record for most points in match against Wests. He also brought up 200 first-grade games and eclipsed Terry Lamb’s record for most points for the Bulldogs. But an even more significant milestone awaited in 2000. Halligan surpassed Mick Cronin’s all-time record mark of 1,971 points in premiership football, ironically by scoring a try, against Canberra. Three weeks later he became the first player to score 2,000 points.

Halligan retired at the end of the season at the age of 34, marking the end of the career of an iconic goalkicker and pointscoring machine, but also a fine winger of underrated ability. In retirement Halligan juggled commentating duties in New Zealand and Australia with a role as a goalkicking consultant for several NRL clubs.