New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders have paid tribute to Norm Berryman, who passed away in Australia aged 42.
According to reports, Berryman suffered a heart attack at his home near Perth.
Berryman, a one-Test All Black with 30 appearances for the Crusaders and 75 games for Northland, won three Super Rugby titles in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
“Storming Norman”, as he was known, earned his solitary international cap against South African in 1998, replacing Eroni Clarke for the final 16 minutes in what would eventually be a 24-23 win to the Springboks.
A constant fixture in the Maori All Blacks, Berryman also played in Europe, representing Castres Olympique and CS Bourgoin-Jallieu.
Recently Berryman played in Perth, representing the Kalamunda Bulls.
The father of six’s most recent match was playing for a NZ Invitational XV in Milan, a match held in commemoration of the late Jerry Collins.
New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew has fond memories of Berryman.
"Norm is someone who will be remembered for his amazing array of skills," he told allblacks.com
"He could do things with a rugby ball that set him apart from even his peers at the top of our game. His spirit and personality were infectious and he added value to every team lucky enough to have him involved.
"He will be remembered fondly."
Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder, who captained Berryman in the late nineties, remembers the man with the constant grin.
“Norm was a great player but more importantly just such a nice bloke,” he said.
“This news comes as a real shock to all of us who played alongside him. He was a man who loved playing footy and his attitude was infectious. Seeing that wide smile on his face every time he scored a try is a memory that will always be with me.”
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach echoed those thoughts.
“Norm was with us for three seasons, won three titles, and left an amazing impression on everyone in the organisation that he met,” said Riach.
“He also made an instant connection with our fans because he was such a down-to-earth, likeable guy – with the most remarkable smile. He will be missed by the Crusaders and New Zealand rugby as a whole.”
All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith, who coached Berryman, remembered snapping him up from the Blues in early 1998.
“Norm and I go back to Crusaders 1998, when we were lucky enough to get him in the draft,” he said.
“My first experience with him was his wife ringing me just before Christmas, saying Smithy, I think Norm needs to come down for a few weeks to do some fitness work.
“He was explosive, highly talented and great ball skills. He was one of the earlier big backs, with Jonah (Lomu) coming through at the same time.
“He was the sort of character you just wanted in the team, he was an energiser, not a sapper. He was one of the reasons we won in 1998 and 1999, you’ve got to say that – he was hugely influential in big games, and we loved him for it.
“He was a really good man, he loved his family, put them first, and they supported him hugely.
“I’ll never forget him.”