Elliot Kereopa, a goalkicking centre, back-rower or prop, holds the distinction of being the only Kiwis representative from Midlands, which later merged into the Bay of Plenty region. He played in Canterbury either side of featuring in New Zealand’s 1970 World Cup campaign.

Born in Rotorua, Kereopa represented Canterbury in 1967 before heading north, earning national selection while playing club football in Tokoroa. The 26-year-old’s planned Kiwis debut against Australia in the 1970 World Cup opener was delayed by a foot injury, but he came into the second-row for the 16-15 victory over France at The Boulevard in Hull.

Kereopa moved to prop for the clash with Great Britain in Manchester a week later, which saw New Zealand go down 27-17. He made a further three appearance on the Kiwis’ post-World Cup tour matches, turning out against Barrow, Salford and France A.

A Kiwis triallist in 1971, Kereopa later returned to Canterbury and played for Linwood. He passed away in Christchurch in 1997.

2 Tests – 0 points
3 tour matches – 0 points
-1970 World Cup tour