Phil Bancroft was a field goal hero in multiple Halswell Grand Final victories during the mid-1980s, but his maiden Kiwis call-up came after a move to Auckland.
A 19-year-old debutant for Canterbury in 1984, Bancroft slotted the match-winning field goals in the Hornets’ 1985 (an unforgettable strike from near halfway with only seconds remaining to cap a man-of-the-match performance) and ’87 Grand Final thrillers against Hornby Panthers.
Bancroft played for Central Districts Invitation XIII against Australia in 1985, represented South Island for the first time the following season and had racked up 21 matches and 106 points for Canterbury by the end of 1987, before heading north.
The crafty half broke into the Auckland team and helped Glenora to the Fox Memorial final (losing to Te Atatu) in 1988.
Bancroft was selected in New Zealand’s second-Test squad to face Australia in 1989, coming off the bench in an 8-0 loss in Rotorua. He was dropped for the third encounter but after a prolific pointscoring season for Auckland (94) and Glenora (162) the 25-year-old was named in the Kiwis’ squad to tour Britain and France.
Though he was overlooked for the five Test matches, Bancroft was the tour’s top pointscorer with 102 from 51 goals in nine matches – a tally boosted by an 11-goal haul against Selection De L’aude in Carcassone.
Bancroft represented Auckland in 1990-91 but later returned to Christchurch in 1994, turning out for Canterbury Country Cardinals in the inaugural Lion Red Cup.
NEW ZEALAND (1989)
1 Test – 0 points
9 tour matches – 51 goals (102 points)
-1989 Kiwis tour of Britain and France