Fans, families cherish All Blacks' return

Kuratiwaka Ngarimu was invited on stage with the All Blacks today (Getty)
Kuratiwaka Ngarimu was invited on stage with the All Blacks today (Getty)

It was a big day in the spotlight for the All Blacks today, but there was one fan who almost upstaged the players themselves.

Ten-year-old Kuratiwaka Ngarimu became an internet hit after he posted a video wishing Nehe Milner-Skudder well ahead of the Rugby World Cup final.

Today, he was flown up to Auckland to meet his idol.

"I got viral on the internet and then I just became famous," says Kuratiwaka.

"Nehe Milner-Skudder you're the man, you're the best at rugby, you're the best at stepping, and if you're ever around Ruatoria, my mum can make you a cake," he said in the Facebook message that propelled him to fame.

Today he stole the show again, invited on stage alongside the All Blacks.

Also there today, but in a specially designated area away from the throngs, were those who know the players best – their families.

"I just think this is the beginning of an amazing journey. It's been quite an exciting year," says Milner-Skudder's aunty, Carolyn Pou.

"It's nice to see that the whole nation is behind the boys. Even over in London it was surreal; it was just awesome," says Julian Savea's wife, Fatima Antaqi-Savea.

For some, it was the first time they'd seen their family in eight weeks – a time they cherished.

"I was a bit flustered and a bit emotional, but yeah just so glad that he's back," says Sonny Bill Williams' wife, Alana Williams.

And if there was ever any doubt about what rugby meant to this nation, today put paid to that, with 25,000 people lining Victoria Park, waiting for hours so they could get the best vantage point.

"I couldn't sleep. I had been awake since 3am this morning and I still can't believe I'm here," says rugby fan Kimberley McLean.

Others travelled from all over the country to see the event, but it was just one kid from Ruatoria who got to have his cake and eat it too.

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