All Blacks: Kiwi imports' haka a great honour - Munster captain

By Wynne Gray

Munster captain Mick O'Driscoll said it had been a great honour for his team to be part of the historic pre-match rituals as his side's Kiwi imports laid down a haka challenge to their All Black opposites.

Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Doug Howlett and reserve back Jeremy Manning laid down the challenge in front of their assembled teammates before the All Blacks responded on a night of incredible colour and passion at Thomond Park.

"Rua in particular, and I don't like singling any of them out, but speaking to Rua he is probably one of the proudest men you will ever meet," O'Driscoll said. "And I think it is something he wanted to do so we all rolled in behind him."

Tipoki, who left the field with an injured knee in the second half, said it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to lay down a haka against his countrymen.

"As a Kiwi boy you grow up dreaming as soon as you pick up a rugby ball that you can play for the All Blacks one day and as a Maori, you know, do the haka for the All Blacks.

"I got asked if we could represent our team and we were wary because Munster has already such a rich culture and tradition that we were not just going to come here and place our stamp on here and have people who have supported Munster for years and lived Munster and played for Munster and thought what are these guys doing.

"It was something that everyone we spoke to wanted us to do and we did it on behalf of our team and they supported us. It was a special moment in my career and I will always remember it."

Tipoki said when the crowd went ballistic, Mafi missed the jump at the start and the adrenalin just pumped through the performance of Ka mate. It had been great then to face the All Blacks' response.

All Blacks No 8 Liam Messam said it had been "awesome" facing the Munster haka which welcomed the visitors to Limerick and the match. Messam clapped and nodded his appreciation to Tipoki and his mates for their haka before the All Blacks swept into their response.

"I just wanted to pay my respects to Rua because he was the senior player and used to be my captain in the Maoris and I wanted to show my respect to him in his home game."

Messam said he was not more relaxed than his debut against Scotland because Munster had a lot of history and the match was probably tougher than his start at Murrayfield.

The No 8 thought it was even more intimidating at Thomond Park to go from a massive din to silence during goalkicks, than to listen to the cacophony he was familiar with at Waikato Stadium.

All Black captain Piri Weepu said he had been quite nervous leading the All Black haka response but it had been a great part of a memorable match and stay in Limerick.

- NZ Herald

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