Who will lead All Blacks haka against Wales?

The All Blacks' team has been named, but one question remains - in the absence of Keven Mealamu and Liam Messam, who will lead the haka against Wales at Eden Park?

Halfback Aaron Smith is looming as the front-runner; the other options are probably skipper Kieran Read and fellow loose forward Jerome Kaino.

The 27-year Smith, a former New Zealand Maori player of Ngati Kahungunu descent, certainly has the heritage to perform the important task with distinction, with Read a possibility to take his place at the front of the arrow-head formation first shown by the All Blacks at the last World Cup.


In that formation last year, former skipper Richie McCaw was on the front line and facing the All Blacks' opponents.

Before that tournament, during which the All Blacks defended their title, the squad visited the Ngati Toa marae in order to reconnect with the "owners" of the Ka Mate haka.

Ka Mate was composed by Te Rauparaha, a Ngati Toa chief and war leader, in about 1820, and it has had a close association with the All Blacks, who in 2005 commissioned a new haka, Kapa o Pango, through Derek Lardelli of Ngati Porou.

Apart paying thanks and respect to Ngati Toa, an iwi based in Porirua and which extends to Nelson and Blenheim, for the continued use of Ka Mate, the All Blacks also referred to the newer haka, one which is more specific to the team and which they tend to reserve for significant tests.

The All Blacks tend to discuss which haka they will use during the week, and practice it behind close doors at the captain's run the day before a test.