Waimari forward Rex King was the captain of the 1939 Kiwis’ tour of Britain, which was called off after just two games due to the outbreak of World War II.
A prominent Canterbury rugby union forward who trialled for the All Blacks, Timaru-born King switched codes with English club Warrington in 1934. He played three seasons with the Wire before returning to his home province.
King captained Canterbury and South Island in 1939. His experience and leadership convinced New Zealand’s selectors that he was the man to lead a new-look squad to Britain at the end of the season, despite not having represented the Kiwis previously.
The 30-year-old scored a try in the first match of the tour, a 19-3 defeat of St Helens, to become one of only two New Zealand reps produced by the Waimari club alongside fellow ’39 Kiwi John Clark.
King was an army officer at Burnham in 1940 and later a captain in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in 1941 before being taken as a prisoner of war in Crete.
NEW ZEALAND (1939)
1 tour match – 1 try (3 points)
-1939 Kiwis tour of Britain