Pinetree pays tribute to old friend and mentor

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James Mortimer     30 Apr 2012     Getty Images

Mate might not be the most appropriate word, as Meads, recognised as one of the most feared All Blacks of his time, was not able to intimidate the Needle, who had a reputation as a tough coach who knew how to get the best out of his players.

Meads played under Allen when he was All Blacks coach in 1966 to 1968, an era where New Zealand went unbeaten in 14 test matches.

Former All Blacks forward Pinetree told the NZ Herald that his old coach wasn’t afraid to motivate players, even if it meant getting under their skin - one of the reasons why the moniker 'the Needle' came into being.

"Fred was second to none and he had all sorts of tricks to do that," Meads said.

"He was never afraid to give the experienced All Blacks a showing-up in front of the younger guys just to keep you on your toes.

"A favourite of Fred's was to read out telegrams in the dressing room before matches which he said came from supporters and that said things like: 'Meads is over the hill' and 'Meads has been there for too long'.

"He would do that to get you fired up and also show the youngsters that no one was above criticism.

“But of course he would have composed the telegrams himself."