New Zealand’s players insist they are not upset by former England scrum-half Matt Dawson’s ’Hakarena’ video, poking fun at traditional war dance the Haka.
Political figures in New Zealand hit out at 2003 World Cup winner Dawson, suggesting his light-hearted video was ill-judged.
All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu moved quickly to downplay the spat, however, claiming Steve Hansen’s squad – defending their 2011 title at the World Cup - see the funny side of Dawson’s video.
“It’s actually quite funny seeing him doing it,” said Mealamu.
“It is something he has looked at.
“It is part of what we do but it is not what we do as a rugby team, we go out there to play the game.”
As for whether Dawson should have shown more respect, Mealamu said: “It is his view on the way he sees it. He sees it different to us.”
New Zealand have been at pains to keep their start to World Cup 2015 as low-key as possible, with boss Hansen desperate to avoid any distractions.
The reigning champions do not want to field questions about off-field spats like the one involving Dawson’s video, shot with the help of players from Battersea Ironsides RFC.
Maori Party co-leader Sir Pita Sharples branded the video “insulting”.
“The Haka is done as a way of honouring the enemy,’ said Sharples. ’You do it if you’re up for a challenge.
“By doing the Haka as the All Blacks do, it’s recognising the worth of the other side. So if they’re doing something to mock the Haka, then that’s pretty shameful.’
In the video Dawson said: “England have an amazing chance to be crowned world champions for just the second time in history, but there’s a major obstacle: the All Blacks.
“The current world champions are in amazing form with awesome power, strength, depth and one secret weapon: the haka.
“They’ve used it to intimidate us. They think they have an advantage over us.
“They think they’ve won the game before a ball has been kicked.
“But I’m telling you what, we’ve got our own secret weapon.
“Have a go at the Hakarena, maybe we’ll put the All Blacks off their rhythm.”