All Blacks v Argentina: New Zealand pay tribute to Diego Maradona before haka

The All Blacks paid their respects to football legend Diego Maradona with a touching tribute before their Tri Nations game against Argentina on Saturday night.

Argentina is in mourning after Maradona died aged 60 at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Thursday (NZ time) when he suffered a heart attack, which came weeks after he underwent successful surgery on a brain blood clot.

The Pumas were the first Argentinian national sporting side to play following the death of the icon. 

Before the All Blacks performed their traditional pregame haka, skipper Sam Cane laid down an All Blacks jersey with '10 Maradona' on the back. 

The gesture was received with rapturous applause from the packed McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.

After the game, which the All Blacks won 38-0, Cane revealed that TJ Perenara came up with the idea. 

While Cane admits he's not a huge football can, he knows the impact Maradona had on world sport and felt it was important to show a sign of respect.

"It was a gesture, and a token of paying our respects to an Argentinean legend but probably also a world legend in his field as well," says Cane. 

Sam Cane.
Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty

"Personally, I don't know a lot about [football] but the boys that do, I think it was the right thing to do. 

"Rugby is a game first and foremost that is built on respect and I believe it was the respectful and right thing to do."

Maradona was a huge fan of any Argentine sporting team and has often been photographed in the changing room with the Pumas after games. 

The Māori All Blacks did something similar in 2016 when they paid their respects to former Munster coach Anthony Foley when the two teams faced off in 2016.

Foley played 13 years for Munster and coached them from 2014 until his sudden death weeks prior to the match.