Sonny Bill Williams has provided insight into one of the cultural adaptations many All Blacks have had to make since arriving in Japan.
Williams is among the vast group of All Blacks who have covered their tattoos in order to respect Japanese customs.
Both teams and supporters have been warned to cover tattoos in public to avoid causing offense given their association with the Yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate.
World Rugby advised players to wear rash-vests in public spaces like pools and gyms.
Williams said he respected the values held in the country and is grateful for the opportunity to visit and play in Japan.
“The first day we were here we went to a gym and we all had to cover up so there were a few long sleeves, tights and calf sleeves going around,” said Williams.
“But I think that will be the norm for the players who are lucky enough to come over here, and we just have to respect the values that the Japanese people have – that’s just how it is.”
World Rugby have an education program in place ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan to ensure both fans and players abide by the traditional customs.
The 33-year-old Williams – the oldest current All Black – will bring up 50 Tests for when he meets the Wallabies for the third Bledisloe test on Saturday.
“[Playing 50 tests] ended up being a goal but at the start I don’t think it was realistic,” he said.
“I didn’t think it was a possibility when I first started. When I first started playing rugby and I have said this before, I didn’t have that connection with it because I grew up as a league player.
“Over the years that developed and being in this environment really helped that and once I had that connection I knew that anything was possible.”
In other news:
Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.