Rugby Union: Wales vow to respect Blacks' haka

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The Independent Online
Wales have promised not to wreck New Zealand's famous haka war dance when the countries meet at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The Welsh coach, Kevin Bowring, will consult the All Blacks management to try to avoid any repeat of England's Old Trafford antics last weekend.

Rival hookers Richard Cockerill and Norm Hewitt became involved in an ugly confrontation as they stood toe to toe when New Zealand threw down their traditional challenge. "I hope that both teams will line up on the respective 10-metre lines while the haka is being performed," said Bowring, who yesterday announced a side showing five changes from that which finished the job and saw off Tonga 46-12 nine days ago.

"We will respect the tradition, and I hope to sort out the logistics of where everyone stands by speaking to New Zealand's management team beforehand."

The Welsh players do not intend copying Cockerill, whose defiant attitude delighted a 55,000 capacity Manchester crowd, but angered the All Blacks coach, John Hart, who slammed England as "disrespectful".

Wales will have enough on their plate without resorting to Cockerill- style histrionics. They have not beaten New Zealand for 43 years, suffering 13 successive defeats while conceding an average of 27 points a time, and suffered back-to-back 50- point defeats in New Zealand in 1988.

Little wonder then that Bowring has preferred experience, recalling centre Allan Bateman, scrum-half Robert Howley, prop David Young and lock Gareth Llewellyn who all failed to make the starting line-up against Tonga.

And, as expected, Bowring has chosen the fit-again Pontypridd full-back Kevin Morgan, whose "home'' international debut comes at the expense of his club colleague Gareth Wyatt.

The six Lions on parade confirm a virtual full-strength Welsh outfit, although Bowring's decision to overlook proven Test match performers Ieuan Evans and Scott Quinnell could yet return to haunt him.

Bowring admitted that he was looking for a big effort from Harlequins lock Llewellyn, Wales' most capped forward making his 60th appearance as Moseley's Steve Moore recovers from an untimely injury setback.

Despite moving into exile while work continues on the pounds 120m millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales' Wembley mission has captured public imagination. Some 75,000 tickets have been snapped up, delighting the Welsh Rugby Union and Wembley organisers as once again the All Blacks have proved a massive draw.

WALES TEAM (v New Zealand at Wembley Stadium on Saturday): K Morgan (Pontypridd); G Thomas (Bridgend), A Bateman (Richmond), S Gibbs (Swansea), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Howley (Cardiff); C Loader (Swansea), B Williams (Richmond), D Young (Cardiff), G Llewellyn (Harlequins), M Voyle (Llanelli) R Appleyard (Swansea), G Jones (Cardiff captain), N Thomas (Bath). Replacements: L Davies (Cardiff), A Thomas (Swansea), P John (Pontypridd), S Williams (Cardiff), S John (Cardiff), J Humphreys (Cardiff).