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‘Dream come true’: All Black Emoni Narawa reflects on try-scoring debut

By Finn Morton
Emoni Narawa of New Zealand holds the trophy after winning a Rugby Championship match between Argentina Pumas and New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on July 08, 2023 in Mendoza, Argentina. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Rising star Emoni Narawa made his international debut on Saturday and performed brilliantly as the All Blacks ran away with a big win over Los Pumas in Mendoza.

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But to make it just that much more special, the All Blacks’ newest member crossed for a try late in the contest. It was a moment that the 23-year-old will never forget.

Following a sensational campaign in Super Rugby Pacific with the Chiefs, Narawa was included in the All Blacks’ 36-man squad for The Rugby Championship.

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After assembling with the national team in Auckland, Narawa flew to South America along with some of the greatest players in the country.

The electric winger was wearing All Blacks apparel on the plane – just like the whole squad – but Narawa was still yet to enter the fray of Test rugby.

But after landing in Mendoza late on Sunday, a potential international debut in black appeared imminent.

Eventually, it was revealed in the early hours of Friday morning (NZST) that Narawa had been named on the right wing.

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Narawa was set to become All Black No. 1208.

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The outside back starred in the No. 14 jersey during the All Blacks’ emphatic 41-12 win, and even accepted the trophy on behalf of the team after the match.

“After the final whistle I sort of stood there for two minutes to soak it all in,” Narawa told RugbyPass post-game. “Dream come true, dream come true, it’s all sunk in now.

“I was kind of nervous (about the Haka) leading up to the week but it was good. We had a few practices throughout the week so I was good to go when it came down to the Haka.”

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With one of his first touches as an All Black, Narawa made an impressive break down the right wing. Watching on from the sidelines, it looked like the winger was a chance to score.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

“I thought I was away and then I looked on the big screen (and) I was getting chased by I think three players so I tried to put it on the boot,” he added.

“I was glad to get that last one in the end.”

Narawa looked threatening each and every time he touched the ball. The outside back looked like a real chance of opening his international try-scoring account on debut.

And that’s exactly what happened.

With the All Blacks up by 31 points late in the Test, Narawa scurried down the wing to score his first international try in the black jersey.

“I’m lucky to play with such a talented group of boys so the other 14 boys are the ones doing the hard yards and I’m just on the edge, just catching and putting the ball down.

“It was quite special and like I said, a dream come true running out the tunnel. All of those emotions came in at the final whistle so it was quite special.”

Long after the full-time siren had sounded at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Narawa received his first piece of silverware on behalf of the All Blacks.

Then, after walking down the tunnel, it was impossible to wipe the smile off the debutant’s face.

Narawa wasn’t only an All Black, the rising star was also a try-scoring All Black. It couldn’t have been scripted any better.

“I think every All Black, if they’re asked for a highlight of their career, they’ll always look back and say the debut, it was the realisation of a dream, a really special occasion,” captain Sam Cane told reporters.

“For Emoni to do it over here in what’s a pretty good win, and then to cap it off with a try at the end there, I think he should be really proud of his performance.”

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