Born: 17 December, 1941
Died: 10 October, 2014
Test record: 5 Tests (1964, 1966, 1968) – 1 try, 20 goals (43 points)
Tours: 1968 World Cup
A uniquely versatile player who made appearances for New Zealand at prop, lock and wing, Ernie Wiggs’ trademark was his prowess as a long-range goalkicker – slotting 20 goals in five Tests from 1964-68.
The Otahuhu forward played in Auckland’s loss to France in 1964 but received another opportunity against the tourists six days later, named at prop in New Zealand’s third-Test line-up and scoring a try and kicking a goal as the hosts completed a series cleansweep with a 10-2 win at Carlaw Park.
Wiggs, alongside brother Albie, represented Auckland against the 1965 Australian tourists but was not called upon by the national selectors for that Test series or the Kiwis’ tour of Britain and France. His next chance at international level came the following season against the 1966 Lions, picked at lock for the second Test. Wiggs’ seven penalty goals were not enough to prevent a 22-14 defeat to the battle-hardened Brits.
Again overlooked in 1967, Wiggs was recalled for the 1968 World Cup – as a winger. The 26-year-old was on the flank for all three matches of New Zealand’s winless campaign, kicking five penalties (including one from near halfway) in a 15-10 defeat to France, three goals in the 31-12 loss at the hands of Australia and four more in the 38-14 thrashing against Great Britain.
Wiggs’ performances earned the NZRL’s Player of the Year award for 1968 but he did not feature for the Kiwis again – despite his goalkicking playing a key role in Auckland’s upset of Australia in 1969 and playing in an Auckland selection’s win over New Zealand that year in a diamond jubilee commemorative match.