August 9 1966 – On Tour with the Lions.

The day before playing, and losing to, Wanganui-King Country some of the Lions went hunting at Mangamahu. And journalist Terry McLean took the chance of a chat with Colin Meads.

“Wanganui, 9 August

THE Lions have known most things on their tour. Today, if report is to be believed, they nearly knew death. Powell had his head only inches off the line when Weston lifted his .303 rifle to bring down a 12-pointer stag on the Mangamahu property of John Polson, and Piggy, so it was said, was deafened for some little time by the blast of the bullet. Happily, he lived on even as the deer, shot through the throat, instantly expired. These two, and Willie John McBride, also took part in the kill of another stag, not quite so extensive of antler. There had to be a good bit of argument about who did what, because there were, it seems, a number of bullets in the carcass; after a good deal of oratory, Willie John was officially credited with the kill.

But Piggy wasn’t to be denied some of the glory. His heart was touched by the sight and sound of lambs separated from their mothers, or of sheep strung up in difficult places. By the time these Lions returned to their hotel, the tales of his rescue work had become so embroidered that half the sheep in the North Island had toddled up to share in his care. In actual fact, he was credited with the rescue of one sheep and three lambs; which put Mr. Polson much more in his debt than did Weston’s one shot.

I talked for a longish time with Cohn Meads. He made a couple of profound observations. Item: There was too much talk of “bad” ball. The only ball which was “bad” was that which wasn’t caught. All ball which was caught, in no matter what difficult circumstances, was “good” because the catcher, having possession, held the initiative. Item: It was easier for a team getting less possession to run it than a team getting the preponderance. The less successful team was poised in aggressive defence and so was in the right mind to be more aggressive in its running. Item: It is better to be over-vigorous than not vigorous enough (I had mentioned the criticism made by myself and by other people that he had too often been implicated in scrapes). In being over-vigorous, one was at least contributing, whereas in under-vigorousness, one wasn’t. The same thing with cheating; it was all right to cheat, so long as one was cheating for one’s side, not for oneself. Up at the top, everybody had to cheat a bit —“these Lions are as good as anyone at it,” said “Pinetree”—and the essential thing was not to be left behind. Highly stimulating.”

From “The Lion Tamers” by Terry McLean. Pub. 1966 by A H & A W Reed. P.139-140.