Andy Haden remembered as one of New Zealand rugby's greatest on and off the field

Former All Black Andy Haden was remembered on Monday as a pioneer of rugby in New Zealand.

The 41-test lock was farewelled at his funeral in Auckland, where close friends and former teammates praised Haden's immense contribution to the game off the field, which more than matched his vast feats on it.

"He was one of the greatest players I've ever played with," former All Blacks captain Wayne Shelford said. 

"I met Colin Meads as a young man. But to play with Andy Haden was even bigger. 

"I didn't get to play with Colin." 

On and off the field, controversy was never too far away from Haden, but he was remembered as a leader, thinker and determined competitor.

"If you didn't put a kickoff on the spot he'd stop and say go do it again, or if Fitzy [Sean Fitzpatrick] had a bad day throwing lineouts, he'd send him away," remembered former Auckland teammate Grant Fox. 

Haden also played over a hundred games for Auckland, mentoring John Hart's coached team that would go on to dominate provincial rugby, defending the Ranfurly Shield a record 61 times.

"His influence and mana, really created the environment for ultimate and amazing success for that team, and I think that rubbed off into the All Blacks going into the late 80s," said Michael Jones. 

Haden was described by many of Monday's guests as a visionary and ahead of his time, including new All Blacks coach Ian Foster. 

"He wanted to involve families and partners in the game and he wanted players to have more of a say," Foster said. 

"He's a rich part of our legacy and there's no denying he's left a mark."

A mark that will forever be ingrained in the black jumper.