Almost a year after leading the haka for the first time, All Black captain Kieran Read showed that he will be a central player in the traditional challenge during the World Cup.
During the rendition of Kapa O Pango before the 23-13 win over the Springboks in Yokohama, Read stalked through the ranks of the All Blacks with haka leader TJ Perenara, before finally taking his place at the head of the formation.
It was a departure from the way the team has been performing the haka in recent years, however, Read confirmed post-match that it was ‘something they’d been working on’.
“We talked about it as leaders and what we wanted to do as a team. Today the connection we showed was great,” he told a large group of international media in Yokohama International Stadium.
His sentiments were echoed by coach Steve Hansen, who said that the team had also been given advice on the change.
“The haka’s pretty important to us as a team. The people that guide us through that haka had suggested that it’s something we should do. That’s why the boys have had a crack at it.”
Winger George Bridge, who scored the All Blacks’ opening try, said that Read and Perenara only informed the team the day before the match.
“A leader like ‘Reado’ shows plenty of mana.”
That was echoed by Aaron Smith, who said, “I think it just added to the occasion, we were pretty pumped up and excited about this test match. We’ve done a lot of work on our connection with that…it felt good.
"We love our captain, hearing him lead and the mana he holds in the team, feeling him walk through the haka then taking his place at the top of the Niho was pretty special.”