Koro is a Māori term describing an elderly male figure in one's tribe or immediate family. In a rugby context, it carries the same affectionate connotations and level of respect within a team.

Liam Messam, a man steeped in tikanga Māori, has been a rugby koro for some time but only recently, when he realised Toulon team-mates were born in the same year he finished Rotorua Boys' High School, did it truly hit home.

"It's pretty scary to think about," Messam, now 35, chuckles.

Messam has just completed his 17th professional season, donning his Rotorua Boys' socks, in a nod