NZRL fraternity mourn the loss of a

One of New Zealand's most experienced rugby league internationals, John Rutherford (Jock) Butterfield, died in a Brisbane hospital on Saturday after falling ill. He was 72 years old.

He stands as the record holder for the most games in a Kiwis jersey with 99 - a record unlikely to be surpassed. The legendary hooker started his Kiwis career in 1954.

Only Gary Freeman, Stephen Kearney and Ruben Wiki have exceeded his test tally but, with long tours a thing of the past, no one will threaten to overhaul his 99 appearances.

He went on eight Kiwis tours, including the World Cup tournaments of 1954 in France, 1957 in Australia and 1960 in Britain, two long tours of Britain and France, and three trips to Australia.

A former teammate, Des White, says Jock Butterfield was a gentleman off the field who liked a beer.

But White says he was a tough guy who did not suffer fools but was always willing to impart a lot of knowledge to younger players.

White says he was a typical West Coast character - rugged and tough.

He says Butterfield was the best hooker around in his day, when hookers still had to strike for the ball at scrum time.

Butterfield played played 99 matches, including 36 tests, between 1954 and 1963, as well as a long and colourful career with the West Coast and Canterbury provincial teams.

He shifted to Australia in the mid 1960's, playing a few games for Manly, before coaching around the Mount Isa area in Queensland.

Last year he was inducted into the New Zealand League Hall of Fame.