Rugby World Cup: Anything for All Black greats' signature

By Kathryn Powley

Michael Jones autographs Mangere resident John Latoa's shirt. Photo / Jason Dorday
Michael Jones autographs Mangere resident John Latoa's shirt. Photo / Jason Dorday

When All Black greats visit your street you grab whatever you can find for them to sign: flags, rugby balls, T-shirts - even a pink ukulele.

And that's exactly what happened when Michael Jones, Joe Stanley, John Kirwan, AJ Whetton, Buck Shelford, Grant Fox, David Kirk and former coach John Hart surprised the residents of Asics Drive in Mangere to help celebrate being named New Zealand's "best dressed street" in a World Cup 2011 competition.

At a street party yesterday, the street was enveloped by an impressive array of flags, balloons and all-round enthusiasm.

Residents cheered when the household names arrived. The children performed a rousing haka before lining up to shake hands with the visitors then excitedly joined the back of the line to shake hands again.

Streets from Northland to the West Coast entered the competition but Asics Drive, which even boasted goal posts, was the winner on the day.

Hart said it meant a lot for the 1987 All Blacks - the last New Zealand team to win the World Cup - to feel they were representing New Zealand.

"We did it for the whole of New Zealand. To come back for the 2011 World Cup and be part of the community is really nice."

Asics Drive resident Jenny Marshall organised entering the competition and said the experience had brought them together. They now all knew each other, but meeting the All Black greats was a real thrill.

For being the best street, they won a street party.

ALL BLACK GREATS PREDICT A 'TIGHT' WIN

Former All Black greats are predicting an All Blacks victory over Australia after a tough and closely fought game tonight.

John Hart: "The All Blacks will win by six."

John Kirwan said we just wanted "one point. That's all we need in our favour. That one point will be like 100."

Joe Stanley: "The All Blacks will win. I think they'll have 10 points on them to be honest. I think it'll be an open game. "

He said New Zealand was stronger in the tight five, where it would count.

AJ Whetton didn't care what the score was, as long as the All Blacks won. "Ten points would be lovely."

David Kirk wouldn't predict a score: "I think we'll win a tight game. I think we'll have to work really hard. I think we are good enough to win."

- Herald on Sunday

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