Born in Wanganui, New Zealand, he made his All Black debut in 1972, and his Test debut against the British Lions in 1977 – going on to make 41 appearances and scoring 2 tries. He played club rugby for Auckland, Harlequins in London and Algida Rome in Italy.
Haden was a controversial player, who was accused of cheating and unsporting conduct by opposing players. The most infamous occurrence of this happened in a match against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1978. The score was 12–10 in Wales's favour, when Haden and another New Zealand player, Frank Oliver, suddenly fell to the ground as if pushed. The referee awarded a penalty in the dying moments of the match, which Brian McKechnie kicked, winning the game for New Zealand. Later, Welsh legend JPR Williams wrote that Haden should have been sent off. Despite the controversy however, the referee subsequently stated that the penalty had actually been awarded for an actual infringement against Oliver and not the Haden 'dive' as was thought. Haden doesn't however deny that the attempts to cheat the referee were pre planned, something also confirmed by his captain Graham Mourie. The match happened on the same day as the annual 'Miss World' competition, which prompted Welsh cartoonist Grens to create a picture of the 'Miss World' event, but with Miss New Zealand lying on the floor, pretending to have been pushed. Haden made his last Test appearance in 1985 against Argentina.
He is currently an agent for various celebrities. In 2010 Haden was given the honorary position of Rugby World Cup Ambassador, but resigned this post after making controversial statements about a racial quota he alleged the Canterbury Crusaders to be operating, calling Polynesians "darkies", and then suggesting women raped by sports stars may be partly to blame.