Bob "Tommo" Thompson's "whole world died" when doctors told him in 1969 he would never play rugby again.
"Tommo", as he's known to those close to him, has told us how a specialist's advice that he'd never play rugby again, helped him become a Wallaby.
Source: 1 NEWS
He wasn't having a bar of that, so he packed up, moved to Australia and subsequently rose through the ranks to become a well-known player for the Wallabies.
The born and bred Rotorua man became the first Maori All Black to cross the ditch to play for the opposition.
In a sit-down chat with Te Karere, he shared several great yarns about overcoming a leg injury he sustained during a stint for the Maori All Blacks.
But it's when he proved he was a force to be reckoned with in Australia he got the opportunity to play against greats like Sir Colin "Pinetree" Meads and cousin and former Maori All Black Michael Parkinson.
"I just lived for the game"
Thompson's mind is filled with fond memories of the first time he fell in love with rugby.
He was about eight years old at the time.
"As a kid, I can remember in 1956 the Springboks were playing the All Blacks... so mum and I and the family started getting ready to listen to it on the radio," he said.
"When my mum was alive, I started wearing black boots with white laces and she would always wash my boots and shorts on a Friday night so I had nice clean gears the next day.
"I just lived for the game."
'It was the buzz of my life' - Thompson picked for Maori All Blacks
It was the year Thompson was chosen as a reserve hooker to a bloke named Ronnie Walker for the Bay of Plenty rep team.
The last of their six games for the season was against Auckland.
"Ronnie had an injured knee so I was picked for the game against Auckland."
A Maori All Blacks selector was there and asked the Bay of Plenty coach whether or not Thompson had any Maori blood in him.
Thompson's mother was of Ngati Kahungunu (Hawke's Bay iwi) descent.
His father got a call the following week saying Thompson had been picked for the northern Maori squad to face the southern Maori team in Palmerston North.
"We beat the southern Maori team convincingly, it was the buzz of my life."
In 1969, when he played for Rotorua's Kahukura Rugby Club against local side Ngongotaha, Thompson got into a rough tackle.
He suffered a compound fracture in his leg. Doctors then delivered Thompson a second blow.
"I told my wife (then-girlfriend), who was a radiographer at the time, let's get married and get as far away from New Zealand as possible.
"I wanted to leave because I was told I would never play rugby again... they said my ankle was too badly dislocated."
The only Kiwi to be picked for junior Wallabies side
Fast-forward to Perth in 1971.
During South Africa's tour of Australia, Thompson proved he was a diamond in the rough when he scored all of Western Australia's 18 points in their 44-18 loss to the visiting Springboks.
After this game he got a call up to play in the second match for the junior Wallabies against South Africa.
Although he said he played a fairly rough game, it was after this that he got a call from a journalist in Sydney to say he had made it into the national team for the third test.
"He rang me and asked how I was feeling, I told him that I was heading back to Perth, because the game we had just played was in Brisbane.
"I was a bit shocked, because it was this journalist who told me I had made the Wallabies... I ended up going for a run."
His commitment to playing for Australia took him on rugby tours to New York, France, South Africa and of course his motherland.
"When we played against the All Blacks, I would fly in and get calls from old mates who were having parties just up the road from where we were staying, so I still had those old connections," he said.
"I had such a great time whenever I came home from Australia, I loved it."
He told 1 NEWS he held Sir Colin Meads in high esteem, and was the player he looked up to the most.
"Everyone these days goes on about the likes of Richie McCaw, but Colin Meads is my idol."