Highlanders and All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has been brought to tears by teammates after they performed a special haka to acknowledge his long service to the club.
With his 154th appearance for the club, Smith became its most-capped player ever - surpassing fellow All Black Ben Smith and while the match result left a lot to be desired - the side went down 30-19 to the Hurricanes - Smith and the side were no doubt buoyed by the post-match celebration.
After a presentation of gifts, including a traditional Scottish sword, and flowers, Smith and his new wife Teagan Voykovich embraced as the Highlanders squad performed a passionate haka just metres away.
Led by his co-captain Ash Dixon, the haka left Smith with tears streaming down his face under the enclosed roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium.
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Smith, who is also the most capped All Black halfback of all time (97 Tests), recently signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby that will keep him in the country until 2023.
On making the decision to commit to staying on home soil, Smith acknowledged his ties to Dunedin.
"Dunedin has been good to me. My wife Teagan and I have a home and a business here and our son Luka was born here. I felt that committing to the Highlanders for another few years in some small way says thanks for all the support we have enjoyed over the years," Smith said in a statement earlier this month.
Highlanders coach Tony Brown emphasised at the time how important Smith was to the club.
"As co-captain, 'Nug' is a huge part of this team," Brown said. "His leadership, commitment, drive and skill are all key aspects of his contribution to the Highlanders. He continues to be world class and works extremely hard to maintain it. That hard work and professionalism is a fantastic example to the rest of the team, particularly the young fellows coming into the team."