The RSA is this week running its annual Poppy Appeal – with its theme 'Not All Wounds Bleed' shining a focus on the non-physical injuries veterans and their families face. NZME is an official media partner of the RSA's campaign

Integral to the unrivalled success of the All Blacks is a keen awareness of the men who pulled on the fabled black jersey before them. Not just the old stars, but those fought and died on the battlefield too, like 1905 'Originals' captain and First World War Sergeant Dave Gallaher who was one of 13 All Blacks to die during the 1914-18 bloodbath.

Current All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has a daughter serving as a NZ Army lieutenant, says the story of New Zealand's armed services – past, present, and future – is central to helping players understanding the importance of representing their country.

"Sport too often is compared to going to war and it's nothing like it," says the 2015 World Cup winning coach.


"But when you show a video and talk about people like Gallaher and those who gave up their lives for their country, then people become pretty acutely aware of how important it is to do the best you can when you're playing for the All Blacks. It's an important part of New Zealand history and an important part of All Black history."

The All Blacks often play matches around Remembrance Day (November 11) during its end-of-season northern hemisphere tour.

In the past, they have visited Western Front battlefields and Hansen says the squad often talk about the First World War and the number of All Blacks, and New Zealanders, lost.

"It's something that is front of mind, particularly on that tour. There's a good understanding and a good respect for the guys and girls in the services," Hansen said.

"It gives them a real awareness of what's happened in the history of the All Blacks."

Hansen, a former policeman, is heartened by the increasing awareness of Anzac Day and is buoyed by the large turnouts, particularly the number of children, at services around the country every April 25.

1905 All Blacks rugby captain Dave Gallaher, who died in World War I.
1905 All Blacks rugby captain Dave Gallaher, who died in World War I.

But it's important, he said, that people are also aware of the number of servicemen and women who are currently serving at home and abroad in various roles.

"The way wars are fought now is totally different and a lot of their injuries are the ones you can't see. It's not only the physical scars, it's the mental scars we don't see that are proving vitally important to support," said Hansen, a Poppy Ambassador for this year's Poppy Appeal which has a theme of 'Not all wounds bleed'.


"The Poppy Appeal is a real opportunity for us all as New Zealanders to show our support. We're a small nation but we're a tight nation, and it's a wonderful thing to see people put their hand in their pocket to help others.

"Mental illness is a major problem for New Zealand. It starts at home, being able to talk about how you feel. And for our servicemen and women obviously there's things they all need to talk about and as sportsmen and women there are times when things don't go well and you need to be able to talk about those things and feel safe doing so and get the support that you need."

• NZME is an official media partner of this year's Pin A Poppy campaign. Visit to donate – including the option to get a $3 virtual poppy via text
Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• RSA:
• No Duff: