Lionel Wilson was a Villager player and the late Frank Mellish much admired him and certainly pushed him. South Africa was experiencing fullback problems at the time, and when we played against the All Blacks in 1960 I remember holding thumbs.
The All Blacks were bound to kick up-and-unders onto him to try and capitalise on his relative inexperience. They did as I expected, but Lionel didn't put a foot wrong - never flinched, and never shirked his duty. A wonderfully reliable fullback.
Lionel was not a born rugby player - he made himself. I never regarded him as a natural footballer, but the enormous amount of work and practice that he put into teaching himself, paid off handsomely.
He worked things out for himself and perfected fullback play in his own particular fashion to such a degree that he has become one of our legends. His courage and coolness under pressure against New Zealand in 1965 earned him the respect of the rugby world.