Former Māori All Black captain and respected coach Mac McCallion has been laid to rest.

His funeral drew a large number of mourners who came to pay respects to the man credited with shaping rugby stars like Jonah Lomu and Errol Brain.   

McCallion passed away on Tuesday from cancer.

Former Counties Manukau coach Andrew Talaimalu was there and says he will be remembered fondly.

“I think the easiest way for me to remember is his huge loyalty, very courageous brave man in everything that he entered in life and he wanted to share that with everyone who was around and obviously there were his military background and rugby.”

Many rugby greats gathered in Auckland to farewell one of their own, included Buck Shelford who says he had more than just rugby in common with him.

“I knew him through rugby and the military as I'm ex-military as well. He was a great man. Sad to see somebody leave so young.”

McCallion grew up in Murupara but he is a descendant of Ngāti Porou.

Talaimalu adds that his roots are in South Auckland though, at his club Counties Manukau

“He wasn't a verbose man but I think people knew of him and his actions and he asks simple tasks that he expected them to be achieved and when people struggled he would be the first to help.”

A Veteran of the Vietnam War, he was farewelled by the masses at the RSA in Papakura.

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