Born: 27 December, 1934 – Auckland
Died: 25 October, 2013 – Auckland
Test record: 18 Tests (1954, 1956-57, 1959-63) – 1 try (3 points)
Tours: 1957 World Cup, 1959 tour of Australia, 1960 World Cup, 1963 tour of Australia

Auckland centre-cum-second-rower Ron Ackland’s stellar decade-long, 18-Test tenure in the New Zealand team saw him inducted as one of NZRL’s inaugural Legends of League in 1995 and named in the pack in the Kiwis’ Team of the Century in 2007.

Regarded as one of the world’s best forwards in his prime, the Mt Albert product also coached the national team in 1977-78.

Ackland was just 19 when he lined up in the centres for the second and third Tests against the vaunted 1954 Lions, facing the likes of seasoned British midfielders Ernie Ashcroft, Phil Jackson and Doug Greenall.

He scored four tries in four matches as a centre or winger on the 1956 tour of Australia before breaking his ankle, while he was still an outside back when returned to the Test side for New Zealand’s loss to Australia in the 1957 World Cup opener – Ackland’s only appearance at the tournament.

Ackland’s metamorphosis into a back-rower elevated him to world-class level and automatic selection status for the Kiwis. Coupling his mobility, evasiveness and ball skills with a more imposing frame, he was chosen in the second-row in all three Tests on the 1959 tour of Australia.

Ackland played in both Tests against touring France in 1960 and all three of New Zealand’s World Cup matches later that year. The 26-year-old captained the Kiwis in the drawn two-Test home series against Australia in 1961, but he withdrew from the subsequent tour of Britain and France (along with Neville Denton and Gary Phillips) when the NZRL refused a request for increased tour allowances.

But he was recalled for New Zealand’s 2-0 sweep of Great Britain in 1962, scoring his only Test try in the 19-0 series-opening rout at Carlaw Park. Ackland made a third tour of Australia in 1963, playing in all three Tests – including a third victory over the green-and-golds in the second encounter at Lang Park – among 10 appearances.

The 1960 and ’61 Auckland Rugby League Player of the Year, Ackland had stints with City Newton and Eastern United. His impending move to Australia rendered him ineligible for the Kiwis’ 1964 home series against France and he represented Country Firsts against City Firsts in 1965 – the first season of five at Goulburn in NSW’s Southern Tablelands.

Ackland was player-coach at Inverell in northern NSW from 1971-73 before returning home. He coached Mt Wellington to Fox Memorial success in 1976 on his way to the New Zealand post, guiding the Kiwis during the 1977 World Cup and on the 1978 tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Along with the NZRL honours that were later bestowed upon him, Ackland was included as one of the inaugural batch of Auckland Rugby League Immortals in 1990.