Born: 8 July, 1929 – Tuakau
Died: 21 November, 2015 – Whakatane
Tests: 12 Tests (1953-57) – 3 tries (9 points)
Tours: 1955-56 tour of Great Britain and France, 1956 tour of Australia, 1957 World Cup

Revered Auckland winger Vern Bakalich scored a then-record 34 tries in 42 matches for New Zealand, turning out in 12 Tests for his country during the 1950s.

Born in Tuakau, the Richmond flyer debuted for Auckland in 1952 and was called into the Test team for the third match against the Australian tourists in 1953. He made one appearance during the 1954 home series against Great Britain – a 20-14 win in the Greymouth-hosted second Test.

Bakalich’s halcyon period came on the 1955-56 Kiwis tour of Great Britain and France. He played in five of the six Tests and although he scored just one try in those matches, the 26-year-old crossed for 25 tries in 24 minor fixtures. His unmatched haul for a New Zealander included hat-tricks against Barrow and Wakefield.

Bakalich toured Australia in 1956 and featured in all three Tests, dotting down in the first and third matches of a 3-0 whitewash defeat. He also bagged doubles in three of his four other appearances.

The veteran flankman farewelled the Kiwis jersey at the 1957 World Cup, playing in losses to host Australia and France.

Bakalich produced one last highlight on the representative scene, however, scoring a length-of-the-field try for Auckland against the 1958 Lions. He was named in Richmond Rovers’ Team of the Century in 2013, two years before he passed away in Whakatane.