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Haka just '15 blokes dancing'

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James Haskell: 'Don't worry about the haka. It's 15 blokes dancing!'

NZ Herald

Former international and Highlanders loose forward James Haskell has told the England side how to face the haka ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semifinal against the All Blacks.

Haskell, who played 77 tests for England, has penned a column for the Daily Mail with advice for the England side as they look to beat the All Blacks for the first time at the World Cup.

“Don’t worry about the haka. It’s 15 blokes dancing! It was like a red rag to a bull with me. All I wanted to do was go out and fight those people, so much so that I played a recording of it before Premiership matches. Unless you’ve got a heart the size of a pea, it should motivate you,” Haskell said.

“In my 77-cap career we only beat the All Blacks once but sport is unpredictable. They are still human. They are still vulnerable,” he added.

“I believe New Zealand are beatable and I believe England can do it but it will be incredibly physical. You have to beat them up.”

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Haskell, who played a season of Super Rugby with the Highlanders, said that South Africa are the most physical side at the World Cup adding “if you get a chance to smash the All Blacks then you should take it”.

“Run with real physicality, cut out errors and execute your style of play. Don’t overthink it or you will get caught out.”

The haka on Saturday night is expected to be drowned out by England fans singing ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ much like at a Twickenham encounter between the two nations.

Before the quarter-final, Irish fans at Tokyo Stadium sung through the All Blacks haka, seemingly giving the reigning world champions extra motivation in their thrashing of the Irish.

The response to the traditional pre-match ritual divided fans and pundits, with some labelling it “disrespectful” and others calling it an appropriate response to the challenge.

Ewan MacKenna, an award-winning rugby writer known for his controversial and reactive takes on social media, turned his attention to Kiwis and the New Zealand media for its coverage of the haka reaction post-match.

“Irish rugby fans literally standing and celebrating,” he wrote on Twitter after the Irish defeat. “I’m genuine in saying this. Complete and utter losers.”

“Love how narrative has become that we (Irish) are bunch of good natured people having craic,” he said in another tweet. “I and I know other Irish journalists have never in sport come across more abusive, hateful mob who attack anyone who disagrees in most horrid fashion. Now we move to banter? Doesn’t work that way.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

Were England spied on ahead of their upcoming World Cup semifinal? Eddie Jones seems to think so:

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James Haskell: 'Don't worry about the haka. It's 15 blokes dancing!'