Canterbury hooker Alan Rushton represented New Zealand from the Eastern Suburbs and Hornby clubs, playing 13 Tests for the Kiwis from 1977-81.
Rushton made his senior debut for Christchurch as a 17-year-old in 1967 – the year before the club changed its name to Eastern Suburbs. He was still a teenager when he played for Canterbury for the first time, ultimately racking up 41 appearances for his province.
Originally a second-rower, the rake played for South Island against Great Britain in 1974, while an eventful 1975 season included scoring a try in Eastern Suburbs’ Grand Final thrashing of four-time defending champs Papanui, and playing in Canterbury’s drought-breaking Rugby League Cup win in Auckland and the match against Wales.
An injury to incumbent hooker Tom Conroy gave Rushton an opportunity in the New Zealand team at the 1977 World Cup, scoring a try on Test debut against Australia and starting in the subsequent encounters with Great Britain and France.
Rushton shifted to prop for the series opener on the 1978 tour of Australia but returned to hooker for the remaining two Tests against the green-and-golds and the historic showdown with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.
The emergence of Taranaki hooker Howie Tamati saw Rushton miss the home series against Great Britain (1979) and Australia (1980), but the prolific ball-winner enjoyed another Grand Final success with Eastern Suburbs in 1979, and captained Canterbury and featured in South Island’s upset of Australia in 1980, before earning selection in the Kiwis’ squad for the tour of Britain and France at the end of the latter season.
Rushton regained the Test spot from Tamati for all three Tests of the drawn series against Great Britain and the first clash with France, before missing the second with injury. The veteran, by now at Hornby, wrapped up his international career by played in both matches of the Kiwis’ 2-0 series sweep of the visiting French team in 1981.
Rushton played senior football until 1986, when he turned out for Linwood.
NEW ZEALAND (1977-78, 1980-81)
13 Tests – 1 try (3 points)
15 tour matches
-1977 Kiwis World Cup squad
-1978 Kiwis tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea
-1980 Kiwis tour of Britain and France