Sport | All Blacks

Younger All Blacks want to make veterans’ last game in the jersey a victory

Aaron Smith (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Dane Coles (Ngāti Porou) are two of the 10 players leaving New Zealand Rugby after the World Cup.

Tahu News

A handful of All Blacks are preparing to pull on the black jersey for the last time ahead of their Rugby World Cup Final match against South Africa.

Aaron Smith (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Dane Coles (Ngāti Porou) are two of the 10 players leaving New Zealand Rugby after the World Cup.

Former All Black captain Tana Umaga credits the hard work they’ve put in.

“You’ve just got to see what they’ve done. They’ve won world cups before. Their legacy is going to be huge for what they’ve done.

“They’ve stood the test of time, which is a tough thing in itself, different coaches, yet they’ve still been able to make sure their names are on that list every time.

“That’s a testament to their ability, and their adaptability as well.”

“Standing on the shoulders of giants’

Flanker Dalton Papali’i now hopes the younger players will step up and send their leaders out with a victory.

“There are a few leaders in the team that it’s going to be their last game in the jersey, so it’s a big game for us, knowing that we want to send those boys out on a high.

“How much they’ve put into the jersey, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, we gotta give a lot back to them and Aaron Smith has been at the head of the team for years now.”

Papali’i is looking forward to the moment but says the All Blacks aren’t letting the occasion get to them.

“There is going to be a lot of excitement, but what the leaders have done really well in this team is being able to put a cap on it.

“Realise that you’re feeling this right now, enjoy it, but, when the whistle blows, you got a job to do.”

‘We’'ll see them bash each other up’

“We talk about having fire in the belly and ice in the head. We don’t want to think about it too much but I do have little moments throughout the day where I think this is it, how good.”

The All Blacks will look to claim their fourth World Cup when they take on the Springboks on Sunday at 8am.

Umaga has his own thoughts on how the game will play out.

“All Blacks win obviously, that’s what we are all here for.

" It’s gonna be tough. I don’t think it will be as free-flowing as we’ve seen.

“It’ll be a good game, a very physical game, I don’t think it’ll be a high-scoring game.

“We’ll see them bash each other up, I’m sure that’s what will happen.”

The lineups for the match will be announced in coming days.

Te Rito