Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Waikato junior rugby players get up close with their All Black idols

They ran, they sidestepped and they tackled.

Members of the Morrinsville and Kereone junior rugby clubs got to show off their rugby prowess as the All Blacks made a visit to town today.

Eight All Blacks - Brodie Retallick, Ryan Crotty, Aaron Smith, Waisake Naholo, Aaron Cruden, Luke Remano, Sam Cane and Codie Taylor - wowed the children and their parents as they visited Morrinsville as part of their visit to various rugby clubs around the country.

About 85 kids were lucky enough to get up close and personal with the players as they took part in a series of relays and giant tug of war events held at Campbell Park.

The aspiring young All Blacks were all divided up into teams, with each designated two All Blacks as they ran, jumped, tackled and three-legged-raced their way through obstacles.

After a series of goes on the tackle bag a giant, four-way tug-of-war was held. The competition was too much for All Blacks Sam Cane and Aaron Smith to miss out on as they tried to help their side take the win.

Angela Bishop, event organiser and administrator at Morrinsville Sports Junior Rugby Club, said the kids were excited to have their rugby heroes visit.

"They were fantastic, they interacted so well with the kids. It was awesome."

She said Morrinsville was chosen by the All Blacks as one of the towns to have members of the team visit, and it was an opportunity they welcomed with open arms.

In deciding which kids should take part, Bishop said they eventually settled on the children of the junior sports clubs' coaches, committee and managers in an effort to "give something back to those guys who try so hard every weekend to make sure that we can have grassroots rugby going in these small towns."

Morrinsville Kids Day Care Centre friends Carter Janmaat, 4, and Marshall Bootten, 4, managed to get the signatures of the players.

However, when asked who were their favourites, they replied 'Richie McCaw' and 'Dan Carter', but Carter's mother, Vicky, said they loved all the players.

Julie Langley had her two children, Taylor, 7, and Lucia, 5, take part in the event. She said they had no expectations about what the day held but were blown away by how it panned out.

Taylor said his favourite player of the day was Waisake Naholo as he was a winger and Taylor said he liked players who ran fast.

As for Lucia, Sam Cane was a stand out. "He's always a bit of a favourite," she said.

The visit to Morrinsville was the final leg of their tour for the day after earlier having a private visit to Ngaruawahia Rugby Sports Club and Northern Rugby United Rugby Club.

- NZ Herald

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