How do All Blacks choose haka leader?
November 8, 2013
All Blacks "make sure we do the haka well and if the people enjoy it, it's a good tradition of rugby" © Getty Images
The All Blacks are on track for a perfect season%]
Ugly and scary: Liam Messam says they are the key physical characteristics of the players named to lead the All Blacks' haka performed before each rugby Test.
Messam, 29, has led the haka in recent matches, taking over from such as hooker Keven Mealamu and scrum-half Piri Weepu - who has not been selected for this tour - selected to do so, he said, because of his ugly features as well as his Maori background.
Messam hopes to lead the haka once more when New Zealand play France in Paris on Saturday "but if not we've got some good leaders".
"I guess being Maori myself, that's our native people and being given the opportunity is a huge opportunity for me and my people to lead the haka.
"First off, you've got to be ugly. There's about 99% cent of the boys that are ugly so we're in a good way there. Being confident and being able to express yourself and don't worry what other people think. New players to the haka maybe worry about what other people think, but the uglier and scarier you are the better."
Messam said the battle-scarred features of Ma'a Nonu were most suited to lead the haka, but he said that Aaron Smith was unlikely ever to lead the haka because "he's a bit of a pretty boy".
Mealamu, meanwhile, described the haka simply as part of the team's preparation for a game.
"The haka's not done for [opponents] ... it's nothing to do with trying to scare them," Mealamu said.
"It's about us, it's part of our history of rugby, we've been doing the haka for over 100 years. We just try to make sure we do it well and if the people enjoy it, it's a good tradition of rugby."
Follow live text commentary of the Test between France and New Zealand on Saturday, November 9 from 9am (NZDT), 7am (AEDT) and 8pm (GMT)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup