Liam Messam was a worthy All Black from 2008-15 but without quite achieving the same iconic status he gained with Waikato and the Chiefs and in sevens rugby.
An exceptional schoolboy player at Rotorua Boys High School, Messam was destined for the top from his teenage years, making the national secondary schools' team in 2001-02 and then the national under 19s and making Gordon Tietjens' national sevens squad while still at school.
Sevens was a game well suited to his speed and skill and his excellence at the shorter version of the game might have been at a cost to his 15s development. In 2003-04 he was a regular on the international sevens circuit and it was not until 2005 that he began to have a permanent starting position in even the Waikato representative side.
In 2006 he made the Chiefs squad for the first time but again sevens intervened and that year he was in the gold medal winning team at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He added another Commonwealth gold at Delhi four years later.
Messam first made the All Blacks for the 2008 end-of-season European tour and shared his All Blacks debut in the international against Scotland with Kieran Read.
Messam shared, too, with Read natural leadership qualities and captained many of the teams in which he played. He was captain of the Waikato side which won the Ranfurly Shield from North Harbour in 2006, of the Māori All Blacks and was co-captain of the Chiefs in their 2012-13 Super triumphs.
His greatest personal successes were with the Chiefs, for whom he was a colossal presence, and when he finished with the franchise in 2018 he had played a record 178 games.
Messam has plied his trade in Japan and France in recent years but returned to New Zealand in 2020 due to Covid-19 and linked back up with Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup. He also made another appearance for the Māori All Blacks against Moana Pasifika.
Iwi: Ngāi Tuhoe