West Coast forward Ray Baxendale played the last of his 16 Tests for New Zealand after moving to Canterbury in 1981.
The Runanga second-rower made his West Coast debut in 1974 and was just 20 when he was drafted into the national side the following season, starting in the second-row in seven of the Kiwis’ eight World Championship Series matches. He played another seven tour games that were tacked onto the Australia- and Britain-hosted section of the tournament.
Baxendale was only required for two matches during the 1977 World Cup – both as a replacement – but played in two of the three Tests on the 1978 tour of Australia, second-row in the first clash in Sydney and at prop in the second encounter in Brisbane. The hard-tackling tyro left the field early in the latter match with a hamstring injury.
Baxendale returned for the historic one-off Test against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby and finished the tour with 11 appearances in total. He was named as one of the 1979 Air New Zealand Rugby League Annual’s five Players of the Year for his efforts at club and rep level.
The 25-year-old toured Britain and France with the Kiwis in 1980, coming off the bench as New Zealand drew the first Test and won the second Test against Great Britain. He partnered Graeme West in the second-row in the tourists’ first-Test loss to France.
Baxendale joined Marist-Western Suburbs upon his arrival in Christchurch in 1981, representing Canterbury and captaining South Island against France that season. He was called up to replace injured prop Kevin Tamati for the second Test against France, which the Kiwis won 25-2 at Carlaw Park, before spending the subsequent off-season with English club Wakefield Trinity.
His son, James, ranks among Canterbury’s most prominent players of the post-2000 era. The goalkicking five-eighth/back-rower featured in six Grand Final victories between 2006 and 2021, as well as captaining Canterbury and representing New Zealand Residents.
NEW ZEALAND (1975, 1977-78, 1980-81)
16 Tests – 0 points
23 tour matches – 1 try (3 points)
-1975 Kiwis World Championship Series tour
-1977 World Cup squad
-1978 Kiwis tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea
-1980 Kiwis tour of Britain and France