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Why debutant Emoni Narawa thought the All Blacks ‘were setting me up’

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Rising star Emoni Narawa had an All Blacks debut that he’ll never forget. Starting on the right wing, the 23-year-old showed plenty of pace and skill during New Zealand’s big win over Argentina.

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Narawa was in the thick of the action throughout the Test in Mendoza, and certainly didn’t look out of place after entering the fray of international rugby for the first time.

But, without a doubt, Narawa’s coming-of-age moment came towards the end of the contest. With the All Blacks well on their way to a comfortable win, the debutant crossed for his first international try.

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Let the record show that Emoni Narawa is not only All Black No. 1208, but the winger is also a try-scoring All Black.

Long after the full-time siren had sounded at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, the other All Blacks asked the debutant to collect the trophy after New Zealand’s 41-12 victory.

Narawa walked down the tunnel with a bit of silverware in his hands about 30 minutes after the match had ended. Shortly after, Narawa opened up about his “special” debut in black.

“It is quite nice to win something at the end,” Narawa told reporters.

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“I thought the boys were setting me up there, they told me to go receive the trophy, but they were actually being serious.

“But it’s quite nice to get one trophy in the cabinet, the first one for the year.

“I’ll be carrying it on the bus I think so I’ll be looking after that.”

As Narawa discussed, the All Blacks’ decision to let the debutant collect the trophy was an insight into the culture and values of the legendary rugby team.

The All Blacks, who are also known for famously sweeping the sheds, are a team stepped in tradition, respect and unity.

No one player is bigger than the team.

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“I suppose it’s a little bit of a tradition that’s come about,” captain Sam Cane said after the match.

“It’s a team sport and no one really wants to be ‘the one’ holding the trophy, showing it off, so we’ll give it to the new guy.

“Hopefully it makes them feel like they’ve done an outstanding job, they’ve contributed to the win and they’re right in there and part of the team.”

Cane has played a lot of rugby with Narawa this season, with the pair impressing for the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific.

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While the Chiefs fell short of a fairytale finish in last month’s final at FMG Stadium Waikato, it was clear that the winger had earned a Test call-up following a breakout campaign.

Narawa was included in the All Blacks’ 36-man squad for The Rugby Championship, and was named to debut ahead of their opening Test against Argentina.

With a smile on his face, Cane told reporters at Friday’s Captain’s Run at Marista Rugby Club that Narawa had been “exceptional” all season.

But now, the electric winger has taken the next step in his rugby career with grace, skill and poise. Narawa looked comfortable in Test rugby, and is surely destined for more appearances at that level.

“I think every All Black if they’re asked for a highlight of their career, they’ll always look back and say the debut,” Cane added.

“The realisation of a dream, like a really special occasion.

“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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3 Comments
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Henry 372 days ago

What is the name of the trophy? I know the All Blacks have the Freedom Cup against the Springboks and the Bledisloe against the Wallabies, but I don't know the name of the one against the Pumas.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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