The tallest ever All Black at 2.05 metres and 125 kg, ‘the Big Rigger’, Mark Cooksley, was drafted into the Hurricanes in 1997 to fill the locking role.
In 1997, Cooksley was already an experienced All Black, having made his test debut in the centenary series against the World XV in 1992 aged 21. He went on to play 11 tests up until his last appearance against South Africa in 2001.
Cooksley played 38 times for Counties Manukau between 1990-1993 and 75 times for Waikato between 1994-2001. He played for the Chiefs in 1996, before helping the Hurricanes into the semi-finals for the first time under coach Frank Oliver. He returned to the Chiefs in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and played a second season for the Hurricanes in between in 1999. A touch of Maori blood saw him regularly play for New Zealand Maori from 1992 onwards
In 1995 in France Cooksley gained another distinction when he was the first All Black to be shown a yellow card – albeit controversially - Irish referee Gordon Black apparently unaware that the red and yellow card system did not then apply to international rugby.