All Blacks clear the air over haka response

By Jamie Wall

All Blacks Dane Coles and Atu Moli

There’s been an awful lot of talk over the last few days about England’s V-formation that faced the All Blacks’ haka on Saturday night in Yokohama. None of it is going to change the result of the game, which is what the All Blacks are mostly thinking about this week, but hooker Dane Coles was keen to make sure that people knew that the team were supportive of their opponents’ actions.

"That's what the haka is about – a challenge – and they walked forward” he told media at the team hotel today in Tokyo. 

“I know all the boys were pretty pumped. We were all looking round, like 'let's go'. We didn't think it was bad. We thought it was awesome."

Coles was quick to add that he didn’t think the response played any part in giving the English any sort of psychological advantage.

"No one is going to win a game because they walked forward or how powerful the haka was. It's about what happens on that rugby pitch for 80 minutes. I don't think it gave them an edge, but hindsight is a beautiful thing.”

He was also keen to defend the haka’s place in both rugby and wider New Zealand culture, saying:

"When people pay us out and say we shouldn't be doing it, they don't understand the history of the haka, the history of the All Blacks and the history of New Zealand.

"We love doing it and I wish people would understand that, even people at home who give us stick about the haka. We can't control what people think and say, but it ain't going anywhere. If you don't like it don't watch it.”

Coles also joked about the fine that England reportedly received today from World Rugby for encroaching over halfway during the haka.

"They earn a s***load of money, so they can pay the fine. They're a pretty wealthy union.”