Rugby-Former All Blacks loose forward Nathan dies aged 81

(Reuters) - Former New Zealand loose forward Waka Nathan, who was unbeaten in his 14 tests with the All Blacks, has died at the age of 81, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said on Friday.

The former Maori All Blacks player died in Auckland surrounded by his family, NZR added. He had reportedly suffered from dementia in his later years.

Nathan played 37 games for the All Blacks, including 14 tests, between 1962-1967. He toured Britain in 1963-64 and scored 11 tries in 15 matches despite breaking his jaw against Llanelli.

He also featured in the 1966 series win over the British and Irish Lions, scoring two tries in the third test.

Following his retirement, Nathan coached, selected and managed the New Zealand Maori for more than a decade.

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said Nathan would be remembered for his athleticism, speed and toughness on the field but that his influence lasted well after his playing days, inspiring generations of young players to take up the game.

"It's remarkable that his contribution to rugby spanned more than six decades as a player, coach, selector and administrator and he was fittingly awarded the Steinlager Salver for outstanding services to rugby in 2018," Robinson said.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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