Rugby great ‘Mac’ McCallion dies
A great rugby stalwart has fallen. Former Counties captain Errol Brain soberly reflected on the loss of the rugby legend.
“It is a really sad day for not only me, but any man that came across Mac.”
Mac captained the Maori All Blacks in 1978. Close associate Gary Carter said the Māori All Blacks were close to the heart of Mac.
“Māori was important to him ‘cause he was a Māori. He played for the Māori All Blacks and never lost a game.”
Mac also coached Counties Manukau and the Blues in the 90’s. He also had the pleasure of nurturing then upcoming rugby prodigy, Jonah Lomu. Errol Brain says that Mac was an excellent communicator and treated everyone with respect.
“You know Mac’s M.O. was no different whether it was Jonah, Joeli, Zinzan Brooke, Olo Brown etc. He was very clear with how things should be done and that was his greatest skill. It was his ability to communicate.”
Being a veteran and a man of war, having served in Vietnam, team players knew exactly where they stood with him. Brain spoke of his straight-forwardness to the media.
“You know where you stood with him if you didn’t pull your socks up.”
Mac had a reputation of being a hard man and tough man, but there was another side to him. Brain shares he was an intelligent, thoughtful man.
“He had a soft side to him. He definitely did. He was a very thoughtful man. For a guy that seemed very much around, things were very much black and white to him. He’d put a lot of thought into his answers and a lot of thoughts as to how the team should be.”
Brother Wayne McCallion spoke frankly about his brother’s softer side.
“He showed a softer side when nobody was around. A bit of a pussy, amongst all of his peer group, his rugby players and his rugby mates he was still a strong man. But deep down he had a softer side but he didn’t show it. He didn’t want to show it for obvious reasons.”
McCallion leaves behind his two sons and six grandchildren.