CAPE TOWN – Renowned New Zealand rugby writer Phil Gifford, in his book Loose among the Legends, writes that in 1996 he celebrated his wife’s 50th birthday at the Sumner Yacht Club. The invitation asked people to come dressed as their fantasy.
Gifford recalls being one of those tragics who came as an All Black, while former New Zealand prop Richard Loe, infamous for being nasty on the field, came as the devil.
Gifford writes: “Former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens arrived clothed from head to toe in a real Springbok uniform, complete with the No 10 on the back of the jersey.
“When there was a chance to have a private word with him, I said: ‘Mehrts, I know you were born in South Africa, but please don’t tell me your fantasy is to be a Springbok?’ Mehrts responded: ‘No, not at all. This is Joel Stransky’s gear, when we swapped after the 1995 World Cup final last year. My fantasy is to be the guy who kicks the winning goal in a World Cup final, not the di** who misses it.’
Mehrtens is also famous for his exchange with Springbok flyhalf Henry Honiball, who had announced his retirement after the Boks had beaten the All Blacks in the 1999 World Cup third-place playoff. Mehrtens thanked Honiball for their battles and asked him never to come back to international rugby. Such was the relief Mehrtens felt that he wouldn’t have to line-up opposite the Bok hard man.