Dane O’Hara’s rugby league sobriquet – the ‘Rolls-Royce of wingers’ – is indicative of his stylish play on the flank and a prolific tryscoring strike-rate. But the Blockhouse Bay and Glenora product was the consummate professional, admired for the dedication, consistency and durability at club and international level that saw him play a record-equalling number of Tests for New Zealand and become a revered figure during a decade at Hull FC.


A relatively late starter, O’Hara broke into the Auckland provincial team in 1976 and debuted for New Zealand in the 1977 World Cup opener against Australia at Carlaw Park as a 23-year-old. He cemented a Kiwis wing spot on the 1978 tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea, starting a run of 19 consecutive Test appearances.


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O’Hara’s standing in the national team saw him ascend to the Test captaincy – rare for a winger – for the two-match home series against Australia in 1980, while he played all five Tests on that year’s Kiwis tour of Britain and France. A two-try performance against Hull FC was a forerunner to the polished flyer joining the club a year later.


“The respect the New Zealand Rugby League had for him (showed) in making him captain from out on the wing,” long-time Test teammate Howie Tamati says.


“Dane’s strength was looking after himself really well, he was immaculate on and off the field. Always well prepared, the ultimate professional and a really good team man.


“If you wanted a run when you deep in your own territory, Dane would be the one, really powerful. And so consistent in his approach to the game. I can’t remember him playing a bad game.”


Injury ruled O’Hara out of the Kiwis’ 1983 programme, but he returned to play all 16 of New Zealand’s Tests over the next three seasons to equal Jock Butterfield’s long-standing record of 36 appearances. He scored three tries during the 1984 whitewash of the touring Lions, featured in the iconic 1985 series against Australia and again played all five Tests on the ’85 tour of Britain and France.


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Tries in the 1986 series in Australia and Papua New Guinea, the 32-year-old’s international swansong, took his Test tally to 14 – one short of the then-New Zealand record held by Tom Hadfield and Phil Orchard. A penalty try during the 1978 series against Australia, which today would have been credited to O’Hara but under the rules of the day was awarded only to the team, essentially denied the champion winger a share of the record (which Hugh McGahan broke in 1989).


O’Hara became one of Hull FC’s longest-serving and most celebrated imports, playing over 300 games and scoring 116 tries. He crossed for a late try to secure a draw in the 1982 Challenge Cup final at Wembley against Widnes (Hull FC went on to win the replay) and played in the famous 28-24 loss to Wigan in the 1985 final – regarded as the greatest-ever Wembley decider – alongside Kiwis teammates Gary Kemble, James Leuluai and Fred Ah Kuoi. The Airlie Birds also won the 1982/83 First Division Championship and three Yorkshire Cups during his tenure.


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But perhaps O’Hara’s most important legacy during nine seasons at The Boulevard was as captain late in his career, helping Hull FC stave off relegation and having the honour of leading the club against the 1989 Kiwis.


O’Hara’s 17 years in first-team rugby league wound down with two seasons at English second division club Doncaster.


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Clubs: Blockhouse Bay, Glenora, Hull FC, Doncaster

Provinces: Auckland


New Zealand representative:


1977  1 Test at World Cup (NZ)

1978  3 Tests in Australia

1978  1 Test in Papua New Guinea

1979  3 Tests v Great Britain

1980  2 Tests v Australia

1980  3 Tests in Great Britain

1980  2 Tests in France

1981  2 Tests v France

1982  2 Tests in Australia

1982  1 Test in Papua New Guinea

1984  3 Tests v Great Britain

1985  3 Tests v Australia (home and away)

1985  3 Tests in Great Britain

1985  2 Tests in France

1986  3 Tests v Australia (home and away)

1986  2 Tests in Papua New Guinea


Total Test Appearances: 36 matches – 14 tries (49 points)

Total Matches Played: 63 matches – 32 tries (104 points)




Kiwis captain in 2 Tests (1980)