Home' The Wellingtonian : September 22nd 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
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Wgtn's favourite rugby son
Joseph Romanos talks
to Wellington rugby
Williams about the All
Blacks, cars and the
Graham Williams: ''It's a good time for consumers, but not necessarily for car yards.''
Photo: JOSEPH ROMANOS
You had a lot of competition as
a flanker in the All Blacks in
There were great players. Kel
Tremain and Ian Kirkpatrick on
the blindside, Waka Nathan on
the open. I was a dedicated
openside flanker, and got my
chance on the 1967 tour [of Brit-
ain] when Waka's jaw was broken.
I played 18 times for the All
Blacks and we never lost. I was
very fortunate to be in such a
high-calibre team. Fred Allen was
coach. He was The Needle and
knew how to get the best out of his
players. Brian Lochore was a
superb captain, and he had mag-
nificent support from his players.
Meads, Tremain, Laidlaw, Goin-
The guy I revered most was Ken
Gray. He was an awesome player,
and tough. He never initiated any-
thing, but if you hit him, he wasn't
shy about coming back. A wonder-
ful guy off the field, too.
Gray made himself unavail-
able to tour South Africa in
1970 because of apartheid.
Why didn't you go?
Family reasons. Our daughter
had just been born and that was a
You played a record 174
games for Wellington. What
was the highlight?
Beating the Springboks in 1965
and the Lions in 1966. To beat two
big overseas teams was special.
And you were always a
staunch Wellington Football
I played for them for years.
When I left Rongotai College, I
tossed up between Poneke, Ories
and Wellington. I went with Wel-
lington because I thought I'd have
the best chance of making prog-
ress from there to the rep side.
It paid off.
It did. I played for the Welling-
ton reps my first year out of
Wellington had some tough,
experienced players. How did
they treat this teenaged new-
They were very good to me. Nev
MacEwan taught at Rongotai, so
that helped. Mick Williment was a
Rongotai old boy. They were very
accepting of me.
I see you've got that cauli-
flower ear. Did you ever think
of wearing headgear?
I hated stuff on my head. My
right ear was nearly ripped off
when I tackled someone in Auck-
land one day. I had to have it
Unfortunately three weeks later it
was ripped again.
Talking of injuries, I hear
your fingers were broken so
often you had to wear your
wedding ring on a chain
around your neck.
I did for a while. My fingers got
damaged from rucking. I'd be try-
ing to grab the ball and the boots
would get me.
Who are the best New Zea-
land flankers you've seen?
From my time Tremain,
Kirkpatrick and Nathan. A bit
later Graham Mourie was very
intelligent and played on the open
side, like I did. Richie McCaw is
very good. I thought Michael
Jones and Josh Kronfeld were
good, though a notch below the
very top. For Wellington, Noel
Hawkins was very under-rated.
Are you following the World
I'm trying to. There's a lot of
games to keep up with and it's a
lot busier than during the last
World Cup here. The atmosphere
on the wharves with the
supporters has been fantastic.
Teams to watch?
I'm always wary of the French.
On their day they can be great.
You were identified for
decades in Wellington with
Williams and Adams car sales.
Who was Adams?
Renie Adams. He went into
business with my grandfather,
but was bought out quite early.
The name stayed on, though.
Then it was a Williams
Yes, my grandfather, my father,
What did you do in the busi-
I went in on the trade side in
1964, as an automotive engineer,
rebuilding body engines, regrind-
ing crankshafts. But the engine
reconditioning side petered out.
The cars got better. For a start a
car might need a new engine after
50,000 kilometres. Now some of
them go 200,000km with the same
What did you do then?
I got into the car sales side in
the 1990s. By then the business
was being run by five of us, all
And it closed down in 2009.
That was sad, because it had
been in the family for so long. It's
a good time for consumers, but not
necessarily for car yards. These
days I work in the pro shop at the
Miramar Golf Club.
I understand your daughter,
Tracy, died from cancer.
Yes, she developed breast can-
cer when she was about 23 and
died five or six years later. That
was devastating, not something a
parent ever really gets over.
I see a few months ago Sport
Wellington made you one of its
Legends. Was that a surprise?
It was. I only found out during
the evening, though by then I was
starting to suspect something,
with various friends turning up
from out of town. It was a real
honour and I felt very proud.
You've always lived in the
eastern suburbs. What's the
It's handy to town, and near the
sea. I was a yachtie, so I liked
that. I couldn't really see myself
living on the other side, up in
Khandallah or Karori.
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