The All Blacks insist the haka is as powerful, prestigious and pivotal as ever, claiming Kees Meeuws’ thoughts about the pre-game ritual haven’t been accurately reported.
Meeuws suggested the haka had “lost its mana” and “become a showpiece” in The Jersey, a book about the world No.1 rugby side by British journalist Peter Bills.
Meeuws, who played 42 Tests for New Zealand, supposedly floated the idea of limiting the Maori war dance only to some matches each year.
“The only article I’ve seen on it was around Kees Meeuws and we’ve been informed that unfortunately he was misquoted,” flanker Sam Cane told reporters on Monday.
“That’s a shame.
“We love doing the haka.
“It’s sort of the final touch of ‘we’re ready to go’.
“We’re well aware of the strong history it has and it’s part of who we are as All Blacks. It’s as strong and powerful as ever.”
NZ fullback Ben Smith agreed, noting it’s “a massive privilege to be able to do the haka and it would be odd if we we weren’t to do that before a game”.
Wallabies halfback Will Genia, who will stare down New Zealand before kick-off in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener, said the haka was a spectacle.
“They don’t do it for a commercial purpose. They do it because it’s something important to them in terms of their culture … it’s great to be part of,” Genia said.
Wallabies veteran David Pocock said the haka was “a great way to celebrate and acknowledge Maori culture”.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen expressed similar sentiments to Cane and Smith on Sunday.
“It’s part of the commencement of the game and it means a lot to this group,” Hansen said.
“We understand it’s not for anybody else other than ourselves and we draw a lot from it.”