What a sight it was to see George Bridge finishing off an exhausting, Hail Mary All Blacks move to score their first try at the Rugby World Cup.

Bridge discovered the work ethic and the hurdling skills that are set to put him centre-stage in Japan, as a boarder at Hawke's Bay's Lindisfarne College.

But to a certain extent Bridge is an enigma in Hawke's Bay and New Zealand. No one really rated him as a teenager.


Now he's unseated Rieko Ioane, perhaps permanently, the young man whose path to the top has never known adversity.

Everything Ioane touched as a teenager - sevens, schoolboy rugby, even the black jersey - turned to gold.

In contrast, few in Hawke's Bay saw the value in Bridge and so he migrated to Canterbury, and worked his way into their Mitre 10 Cup set-up with sheer dedication.

It means that every time he's gone up a level - provincial, Super and then test rugby - the doubters have suggested he shouldn't be there.

Those same doubters were watching when the All Blacks broke downfield on Saturday night and Beauden Barrett spied a gap.

Bridge knew he had to be in support.

Watch the replay and see how he has to go full tilt to keep up with his superstar fullback, who then throws an offload in the tackle that is almost below Bridge's knee.

Steaming across, South African fullback Willie le Roux is in Bridge's eyeline.


Most humans running at 30-35km/h, under that much pressure, fumble that pass, and blow the try that would ultimately break open the game enough to win it for the All Black.

But this is the moment Bridge has prepared his life for.

As a boy, he was a talented hurdler. Clip a hurdle at full tilt and you're off balance, looking down, but you've got to keep your feet, keep sprinting and look up for the next obstacle.

And so Bridge the hurdler catches Barrett's pass. He brings the ball up and under control as Le Roux tries to make a last desperate attempt to knock it out of his hands.

One last hurdle.

Bridge bounces off him, slams the ball down, and suddenly the world is at his feet.

He might not have been born in Hawke's Bay and he might not have played his best rugby here, but George Bridge, All Black superstar - we're claiming him.

And in doing so we should make sure we never let guys like him slip through the Hawke's Bay rugby net again.