Senior All Blacks Sam Cane and Ben Smith claim attacks on their haka have been "misquoted", and are adamant that their pre-match ritual is under no threat of being dropped.
"I suppose everyone's got their own opinions, but for us, it's something that's got its own history," says Smith. "It's in our prep, so... I don't think it's a big thing."
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The All Blacks are used to foreign media, in particular, taking cracks at the traditional Māori challenge, but they've had to defend apparent criticism from within their own ranks over the weekend.
In a new book The Jersey, written by British journalist Peter Bills, former All Blacks Sir Colin Meads and Kees Meeuws have both been quoted as critical of the haka.
"Now they play 14 test matches a year and that's too much, as far as the haka is concerned," Meeuws, a 42-test prop, apparently told the author.
"We should either have it at home or just away from home like it used to be, not both."
Sir Colin, one of the game's iconic figures, was also reportedly concerned that the haka was overused.
"Some dignitary or sportsperson turns up, for a film star, at the airport and they haka them," he is quoted as saying. "It is ridiculous."
But speaking at an All Blacks media conference in Sydney on Monday, Smith and Cane insisted that Meeuws was misquoted.
Sir Colin Meads died last year, so the jury is still out on whether he was quoted accurately.
"We've been informed that [Meeuws] was misquoted, so that's a shame," said Cane. "From an All Blacks point of view, we love doing the haka.
"We do a light run-through at Captain's Run and then bust it out on Saturday. It's the final touches of 'we're ready to go'.
"We're well aware of the strong history that it has and it's part of who we are as All Blacks. It's as strong and powerful as ever, in my opinion."
Smith backed up his teammate.
"It's our tradition, it's our history," he said. "That's just the way we prepare for a test match.
"I think it's a massive privilege to be able to do the haka and it would be odd not to do that before a game."
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