Former All Blacks captain shares the awe inspiring story of earning first cap
Former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick has recalled the moment he received his first ever shirt for the national team.
Fitzpatrick was a guest on World Rugby’s Jersey Tales this week, and shared the occasion back in 1986 when he played his first game for the All Blacks as a 23-year-old, which launched a Test career that would last over a decade and would see him win the World Cup the following year.
He showed and discussed a number of shirts that he amassed across his career, including the jersey he wore against South Africa in the 1995 World Cup final, but his first All Blacks outing is understandably the most awe inspiring tale.
“My first All Blacks jersey, 1986,” the 92-cap former hooker said.
“June 1986 we played against the French at Lancaster Park. My coach that day was Sir Brian Lochore and I can remember walking into his room and he gave me this jersey. I was like a kid in a candy shop.
“He said ‘Fitzy, the first time you pull on this All Blacks jersey, make a mental note of that feeling. Every other time you pull on that jersey, try and recall that feeling of excitement you get.’ I gave the silver fern a little kiss, like every time I played for the All Blacks. And I’ll always remember as I was walking out, he said ‘There’s one other thing Fitzy, you are expected to win.’
Fitzpatrick’s debut also turned out to be a winning debut, with the All Blacks conquering Les Bleus 18-9. However, his winning streak for New Zealand did not last long, as he lost against Australia in his second Test match. Three of his first four matches were against the French as well, as New Zealand toured France later that year. In his third Test, he triumphed over France again, but tasted defeat a week later.