Born: 23 September, 1903 – Ngaruawahia
Died: 10 June, 1952 – Hamilton
Test record: 3 Tests (1926-27) – 1 try (3 points)
Tours: 1926-27 tour of Great Britain
One of the standout performers on New Zealand’s infamously troubled 1926-27 tour of Britain, Hornby forward Len Mason went on to carve out a mighty legacy at English club Wigan.
The teenaged Waikato rep arrived at Hornby via a brief stint at Grafton Athletic in Auckland, moving south with New Zealand rep and fellow Waikato product Wilson Hall to take a job at Islington freezing works.
An imposing presence in the pack who could play in the three-quarter line, Mason played for South Island in the 1926 interisland fixture before securing a spot in New Zealand’s touring squad.
Amid internal ructions and the strike of several forwards, Mason shouldered a heavy workload in Britain – he played in 26 of the 34 matches, including two of the three Tests against England and the one-off Test against Wales.
The 23-year-old Māori scored a try on Test debut at Wigan’s Central Park, a ground he would call home for 12 seasons after returning to England in 1927. Mason played over 350 games for Wigan and featured in the club’s victory over Dewsbury in the 1929 Challenge Cup final – the first held at Wembley Stadium.
Part of Wigan’s Championship success in the 1933-34 season, Mason – a regular for the Other Nationalities sides that played internationals against England – later had stints with Keighley and Bramley, finally hanging up the boots in 1940 after 475 club appearances in the Old Dart.
Mason returned to New Zealand and died in Hamilton in 1953, aged 49.