Born: 2 July, 1969
Test record: 25 Tests (1991-93, 1995-98, 2000) – 15 tries (60 points)
Tours: 1995 World Cup, 2000 World Cup

Blockbusting centre/winger Richie Blackmore shot to prominence as a previously unheralded star of the Kiwis’ 1991 programme and went on to score 15 tries in a 25-Test career that spanned 10 seasons.

An Otahuhu junior who had a strong rugby union background, Blackmore debuted for Auckland in 1990 during a season in which he scored 10 tries for the Leopards. A solitary appearance for his province – a rampaging display against Wellington – in 1991 was enough to earn a Kiwis trial and a Test call-up.

Only two years prior he had been a promising loose forward in the 15-a-side game playing for Poneke in Wellington, but he made an immediate impact on the wing for the Kiwis with a two-try Test debut against France and another four-pointer in the second Test.

Blackmore was still a virtual unknown to Australian audiences but he was one of the shining stars of New Zealand’s shock 24-8 defeat of the world champs in Melbourne just weeks later. Down 8-2 in the second half, Blackmore – who turned 22 the day before – sparked the Kiwis’ surge with an incredible 60-metre run before sending fellow international rookie Jarrod McCracken in for an unforgettable try.

He put the Kiwis further in front by brushing off opposing winger Dale Shearer once again and dotting down.

The rest of the series was less auspicious for New Zealand as Australia romped to consecutive blowout wins, but Blackmore crossed for another try in the third Test at Lang Park.

Fulltime professionalism beckoned and Blackmore joined Castleford for what would be a four-season stint with the club. His 111 games for ‘Cas’ included the 1992 Challenge Cup final loss and 1993 Premiership final defeat – both to Wigan.

Blackmore played all three Tests on New Zealand’s 1992 programme and extended his record to nine tries in eight matches, crossing for a hat-trick against Papua New Guinea and notching a try in the first Test of the drawn series against Papua New Guinea. But his only appearance for the Kiwis in 1993 was off the bench in the third Test at Headingley as Great Britain completed an emphatic whitewash, while he played for Castleford against the tourists.

The 26-year-old was signed as a foundation Auckland Warrior, linking with the club after the completion of the 1994-95 British season. He played 10 games for the Warriors in ’95 and earned a Kiwis recall, scoring a try in his first start at centre in the series opener against France. Blackmore played in the first Test against Australia in Brisbane but an ankle complaint ruled him out of the remaining matches.

Returning for the World Cup in England at the end of the year, Blackmore scored two tries in the Kiwis’ 25-24 escape against Tonga and dotted down again in the pool win over Papua New Guinea. He then starred in New Zealand’s epic semi-final comeback against Australia, laying on tries for Richie Barnett and Kevin Iro as the underdogs fought back from 14 points down to force extra-time before succumbing 30-20.

Blackmore featured in all five end-of-season Tests in 1996 as New Zealand swept the Kumuls and Lions, before leaving Auckland for Leeds. He made the trip home, however, to play in the Kiwis’ stunning wins over Super League Australia in late-1997 and the Kangaroos in early-1998, both at North Harbour Stadium.

The veteran featured in the Rhinos’ 1998 Super League grand final loss, 1999 Challenge Cup final win and 2000 Challenge Cup final defeat.

Rounding out a memorable international career in 2000, Blackmore played in the heavy Anzac Test defeat in Sydney and the World Cup pool win over Cook Islands before scoring a try in his last appearance for the Kiwis, in the quarter-final thrashing of France.

Blackmore rejoined the Warriors in 2001 but played just eight games and missed the club’s charge to a historic finals berth. He subsequently played in the local Auckland competition, switching to the second-row, and retired in triumph as he led Manurewa Marlins to the 2005 Fox Memorial Trophy as player-coach.

He took over the head coach role at Otahuhu in 2006 – culminating in another Fox Memorial victory in 2010 – and led the Auckland Vulcans to the NSW Cup grand final in 2011.

Blackmore was also co-coach of New Zealand Māori (with Mark Horo) in 2010, while he later returned to club coaching with Papakura Sea Eagles and also coached Auckland.