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Wairarapa-Bush rugby legend passes away

FAREWELL: Ian Turley notched up 147 first-class games for his province.
FAREWELL: Ian Turley notched up 147 first-class games for his province.

A Wairarapa man who excelled as a rugby player, a devoted family man and who survived a major lung operation nearly 20 years ago has died.

Ian Turley, 69, was a junior All Black, an All Black triallist and a Wairarapa-Bush rugby stalwart who notched up 147 first-class games for his province.

The rangy lock forward wrote his way into Wairarapa-Bush rugby folklore on a cold, inhospitable Wairarapa day in 1977 when he laid down the law to his opposite number when Wairarapa-Bush hosted the British Lions.

Nigel Horton was deemed to be cheating and Turley dished out some summary justice which saw Horton get by far the worst of the deal.

Ian Turley though was known for more than just rugby.

He contracted a disease called anti-trypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder that ate away at his lungs, and underwent a lung transplant operation at Greenlane Hospital in Auckland in 1996. His recovery was described as being remarkable due to Mr Turley’s determination to regain his health.

He is survived by his wife Miriam, three adult children and three grandchildren.

A funeral service for Mr Turley will be held at Masterton Town Hall on Friday, at 11am.

By Don Farmer – Wairarapa Times-Age

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