Brent Todd carried on the magnificent tradition of Linwood-produced Kiwi props, before featuring in four Grand Finals for Canberra Raiders and racking up a tally of 28 Test appearances for New Zealand.
A New Zealand water polo rep, Todd underlined his rugby league potential by winning selection for New Zealand Under-17s and representing Junior Kiwis in 1982-83.
Todd enjoyed a meteoric rise in a hectic 1985 campaign, scoring three tries in seven games for Canterbury – belying the tryscoring drought that would befall him later in his career – and turned out for South Island. The 20-year-old was then called into the Kiwis’ squad as a late replacement for injured provincial teammate Ross Taylor during the tour of Britain of France, debuting off the bench in a big win over Widnes.
The hardworking tyro finished the tour with seven appearances, including a Test debut as a replacement in the 22-0 second-Test win over France in Perpignan.
Todd toured Australia with the Kiwis in 1986, scoring three tries in six minor tour matches and earning a starting team call-up for the third Test at Lang Park. He was subsequently lured to the NSWRL premiership by Canberra on a hefty transfer fee – which Todd paid back with interest via his consistent performances.
He played 26 games in the Raiders’ watershed 1987 campaign, becoming just the second Canterbury product (after fellow ex-Linwood and Kiwis prop Bill Noonan) to play in a Sydney Grand Final. The Green Machine went down 18-8 to minor premier Manly, but the building blocks for future success had been laid in the capital.
Todd played in the Test win over Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in 1987 but was a surprise omission from the side to face Australia. Meanwhile, a broken arm wrecked his 1988 campaign, although he recovered to embark on an off-season stint with Wakefield Trinity.
But Todd bounced back to establish himself as one of the world’s leading front-rowers in ensuing seasons. He was a key component – propping the Canberra pack with Glenn Lazarus – of the Raiders’ 1989 and ’90 premiership-winning teams, and the combination that bravely reached a third straight Grand Final in 1991, losing to Penrith.
Todd also belatedly cemented his Test spot, featuring in all three Tests of the 1989 home series against Australia and all five Tests on the end-of-year tour of Britain and France. He was a mainstay of New Zealand’s six-Test program in 1990, scored a maiden Test try against France in 1991 and featured in the Kiwis’ boilover victory against Australia in the ’91 series opener in Melbourne.
The Raiders’ salary cap debacle saw Todd join struggling Gold Coast Seagulls in 1992, crossing for his first (and only) first-grade try in his 100th appearance that year. The Kiwis vice-captain also bagged a ‘meat pie’ in the second Test against Great Britain at Palmerston North.
Todd played in all three matches of the 1993 series against Australia to extend his run of consecutive Tests to 25 – eclipsing Mocky Brereton’s record for a Cantabrian of 24. His tally was third in Kiwis history at the time and is still equal-fourth three decades later. A groin injury forced his withdrawal from the Kiwis’ squad to tour Britain and France at the end of the year and he hung up the boots, aged just 28.
NEW ZEALAND (1985-87, 1989-93)
28 Tests – 2 tries (8 points)
16 tour matches – 5 tries (20 points)
-1985 Kiwis tour of Britain and France
-1986 Kiwis tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea
-1989 Kiwis tour of Britain and France