In December 1972, the touring All Black rugby team won a closely fought match 19-16 against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, thanks to a try from prop forward Keith Murdoch. Murdoch was a giant, a 17-stone powerhouse, in an era before weight training. After the victory, Murdoch went out to celebrate, and ended the evening by arguing with the tour manager, and then knocking out a security guard at the Angel Hotel. This was apparently the latest in a series of drunken scraps, and the All Black authorities decided enough was enough. Murdoch was dismissed him from the tour in disgrace, and put on a plane home.
However, Murdoch didn’t go home. At his connection in Singapore, he disappeared, before vanishing into the Australian outback. Ever since, journalists have tried to track him down, but the few who find him rarely get a warm reception. One, rugby writer Terry McLean, left in a hurry, after Murdoch threatened to rub his face in a nearby pool of oil.
However, Murdoch remains a fascinating figure to New Zealanders, and these occasional sightings generate considerable interest. He is seen as a tragic figure, the only All Black ever to be expelled from a tour, whose relatively minor misdemeanours did not warrant the disgrace that forced him into exile. In 1979, Murdoch paid a brief visit to New Zealand, and was seen saving the life of a drowning toddler, by giving the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for four minutes.
In 2001, Murdoch reappeared in a less favourable light, when he was questioned as part of a murder investigation. A petty thief who had recently burgled Murdoch’s house was found dead at an abandoned goldmine called Nobles Nob. Murdoch was summoned to answer questions as a witness, but no charges were laid.