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David Hewitt

Two tours, 6 Tests, 1959-62

Two tours, 6 Tests, 1959-62

(1959: 5 Tests; 1962: 1 Test)

David Hewitt, the great Irish centre, was often regarded as a superb talent who never quite fulfilled his potential. For the Lions, though, his potential as a 19-year-old in New Zealand and Australia in 1959 was worth more than 100 points and a hatful of tries for the wings outside him.

Hewitt had the pedigree alright, following his father, two uncles and two cousins into Irish international honours with a debut against Australia in late 1958. By the end of the season, he was a Lion.

The Belfast law student was the quickest man in the squad and made an immediate impression with his startling acceleration and the calm accuracy of his goalkicking.

Hewitt's coolness extended to his attitude to open play as well. Several of his team-mates recall him wishing aloud he had his camera with him to snap the picturesque surroundings while they were in the middle of a provincial game.

A back injury ruled him out of the second Test in New Zealand but he still made 18 appearances in total and top-scored with 112 points, including 13 tries.

Three years later, he made his second Lions tour, this time to South Africa, but was restricted to just seven matches by the hamstring injuries that would plague him for the remainder of his career.

So the highlight of his Lions career would remain the 1959 tour, with the pinnacle of that coming in the third Test, when he scored the try of the match with a searing outside break from 30 yards followed by a series of side-steps en route to the line.Perhaps typically, though, the same game saw him criticised for his judgement of the options around him, when a try-scoring chance was lost at a crucial stage of the game by his fatal delay of a pass to wing Tony O'Reilly .

Hewitt claimed he thought the pass was going to be a forward one; O'Reilly's riposte confirmed the electricity of his centre's pace. "Hewitt," he said, "there's no way I could be in front of you over 20 yards."

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