James Ihaka

On the road with the All Blacks in Argentina

Day One: Following the All Blacks in Argentina

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Hosea Gear takes a turn as a flight steward on board Air New Zealand flight 1349 bound for Buenos Aires. Photo / James Ihaka
Hosea Gear takes a turn as a flight steward on board Air New Zealand flight 1349 bound for Buenos Aires. Photo / James Ihaka

It's not often you see the incumbent All Black fullback dressed in what looks like his pyjamas running down an aeroplane aisle waving a stuffed toy around his head. Israel Dagg was even singing what seemed to be his own version of 'Moves Like Jagger'.

The All Black shennanigans were just a small part of the Air New Zealand flight 1349 bound for Buenos Aires which saw the likes of Hosea Gear, Julian Savea, Ben Smith and Owen Franks make brief forays as flight stewards.

Enjoying the festive affair are 300 New Zealand rugby supporters, who snapped up seats on the specially-chartered 777-300 within days of the tickets going on sale months ago.

The trip is a historic one given next Saturday (local time) will be the first time the All Blacks have played the Pumas in the Rugby Championship in Argentina.

The supporters know it and are excited by the expansion to what many are saying was a tired Tri-Nations format.

"You just got bored of us playing Australia one week then South Africa the next," says Mike, a Hurricanes supporter and electrician on his first South American foray.

"The other thing is their steaks are bloody huge, mate."

Also on his first trip to Argentina is Nick Cooper, who owns a veterinary clinic in Wellington.

He is travelling with his mate, Hamilton veterinarian Keith Houston. Both are confident of success on the field but are expecting less off of it with their limited Spanish.

Nick says he knows how to order beer.

"That's important... I think it's "dos cervesas por favor".

New Zealand might want to thank Keith, who said last year's Rugby World Cup was the first that he had not attended.

"I didn't go to a single game and guess what ? We won."

Keith says the Pumas results in this year's competition are a talking point and he believes they could easily have had two wins on the board, had they held their composure in earlier matches against Australia and South Africa.

Also along for the ride are Olympians Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh, former All Black Frank Bunce and funny bugger Dai Henwood who reckons Argentina "is all about the dance, steak, wine and rugby players with mullets".

James Ihaka is in Buenos Aires following the All Blacks and their supporters thanks to the courtesy of Air New Zealand.

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