Born: 2 August, 1958 – Auckland
Test record: 1 Test (1983) – 0 points
Auckland second-rower John Ackland represented New Zealand against Papua New Guinea in 1983, but the Mt Albert stalwart arguably created a bigger legacy in the rugby league coaching sphere.
The nephew of Kiwi great of the 1950s and ‘60s Ron Ackland, he made his provincial debut for Auckland as a 20-year-old in 1979. Ackland collected man-of-the-match honours in Mt Albert’s 1981 Fox Memorial grand final victory and played for English second-division outfit Hunslet during the 1982-83 off-season.
Another superb season domestically in 1983 resulted in Ackland receiving a call-up for the Kiwis’ historic Carlaw Park clash with the visiting Kumuls, coming off the bench in a 60-20 win.
Ackland departed for Australia after representing Auckland for the last time and celebrating in another Mount Albert Fox Memorial success, playing for Murwillumbah in 1986 and captain-coaching fellow NSW country club Wagga Brothers in 1987-88. The veteran returned to Mount Albert for a farewell season in 1989.
Moving into coaching, Ackland’s lengthy association with the Warriors began when he coached the club’s Colts side in the 1995 Lion Red Cup. He then steered the Warriors’ under-19s side to the Super League grand final in 1997, served as Ivan Cleary’s NRL assistant coach from 2006-09 and led the Warriors’ NYC team to back-to-back premierships in 2010-11 and another grand final in 2013.
Ackland was also Samoa’s coach at the 2008 World Cup, a campaign that bookended a loss to Ireland with wins over Tonga and France.