Sean Cronin recalls brilliant story about facing a topless Kiwi in first haka experience
New Zealand is damn proud of its' haka and fans of the British & Irish Lions have seen enough of them on the current tour to call themselves experts.
The All Blacks' war cry is one of the integral parts of world rugby and, despite the current proliferation of haka performances on the Lions, it will be around for decades to come. Sean Cronin has faced the haka on eight different occasions in his career but he will never forget his first time.
The Leinster and Ireland hooker had been tipped as a Lions outsider ahead of the April squad announcement but he could not string together enough games to make an undeniable case. Ahead of his 12th pre-season in professional rugby, Cronin was on SportsJOE Live to discuss Ireland, New Zealand, the Lions and that famous haka.
"It's a good part of the game; it's good to see it," he said. "Maybe it is getting a bit burnt out on the current tour but I'm enjoying the few dance remixes of it that are doing the rounds online."
The Fog, The Moves, it could be a Thriller 😆 #lionsnz17 #AllBlacks #MaoriAllBlacks #LionsTourNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/ICmtNcPDl8
— KC (@kcshowcork) June 17, 2017
Cronin recalled that his first encounter with the haka was in 2007 when he was playing for Ireland A against the New Zealand Maori at Sandy Park. He said:
"I'll never forget it. I don't know if you remember a guy called Rico Gear? He's a pretty big Maori guy. He whipped off his top.
"So there I am standing there, as a young 20-year-old, and this fella is chiselled out of marble and I'm kind of going, 'My God, what am I getting myself in for?!'
"It was a bit intimidating for a young guy, seeing it at the start, but as you go on through your career and you see it a few times, you get used to it, you enjoy it and it gets you up for the game."
As for the game itself, the Maori leathered Ireland 50-22.
Cronin has faced the All Blacks full team on seven occasions in his career. He lost his first five outings against them but that run came to an end at Chicago Soldier's Field when Ireland won 40-29.
Asked about that unforgettable figure of '8' tribute to the late Anthony Foley, Cronin said, "That was the only time we really talked about the haka [before a game]... We had a quick run-through the night before that that was just in case some of the less intelligent fellas in the squad went off and did their own thing!
"But it was a fantastic thing to do."