Jamie Roberts recalls challenging the haka in 2008 and urges Wayne Pivac’s Wales to ‘speak out’ against New Zealand
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Since 1888, New Zealand has performed the haka – a Maori war dance – before every match to intimidate opposing teams.
Perhaps the most recognizable version of the haka is the “Ka Mate”, composed by a Maori chief in 1820, although the All Blacks have used the Kapa O Pango haka for the past two decades.
Yet despite all the illustrious history, the 2008 New Zealand team experienced something that no Moari has ever seen before. The act of ultimate challenge.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland, a Kiwi himself, pondered for days ahead of the game at Caridff on how to handle the haka with as much respect as resistance.
Gatland insisted the haka wasn’t over until the opposition turned away, with back row Martyn Williams asking what would happen if no one turned away.
This had never been done before to a New Zealand team and it made it possible to watch tingling in the spine.
South African referee Jonathan Kaplan begged the All Blacks and Wales captain Ryan Jones to return to their posts to start the game.
Yet neither weakened and the hum of Principlaity Stadium quickly changed from a low roar to a cacophony of noise as 75,000 fans erupted in Cardiff.
talkSPORT will bring you live and exclusive coverage of the Fall Nations Series, starting with Scotland v Tonga before heading back to the Welsh capital for the All Blacks visit.
Jamie Roberts, who played at the indoor center that day, remembers the moment and the lasting impact it had and urged Wayne Pivac’s men to be just as daring on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“I think it’s a mark of respect for their dominance,” Roberts told talkSPORT.com. “I saw them grow up!
“The likes of Cullen, Lomu and all those guys that dominate the world game, Carter and McCaw, I got to play against these guys.
“It’s just a show of respect for the quality of a team, but I also got closer. I was lucky to be on a team that beat the All Blacks with the Barbarians 12 years ago and I got closer to Wales.
He added: “It’s an incredible experience and I have immense respect for New Zealand rugby and the tradition it brings to the game.
“I think this is one of the most iconic occasions in our sport, if not in the world of any sport.
“I had the chance to face it a few times and I played the game in 08 when we held on and the atmosphere in the stadium was just bubbling.
“It was an amazing experience to be a part. We still lost, but it was pretty iconic! It’s a very special experience as a player and the fans will certainly feel privileged to be there.
“The guys will feel that privilege, without a doubt, as soon as they put on this jersey for the first sold-out match in the Principality and what better game to go and express themselves.”
You can watch Wales vs New Zealand and the Autumn Nations series on Amazon Prime Video for £ 7.99 per month with a 30-day free trial for new members.
Top Stories News Today Jamie Roberts recalls challenging the haka in 2008 and urges Wayne Pivac’s Wales to ‘speak out’ against New Zealand