The centre-back and hooker played Super Rugby with the Wellington Hurricanes and Faiva even wore the New Zealand Under-20 jersey at the World Junior Championships in 2013 and 2014.

The two players will not only face their compatriots, they will also have to face the Haka, which Faiva performed with the "Baby Blacks".

"Doing the Haka is an incredible feeling, you can't describe it, and to see my friends from the All Blacks do it, it's going to be a cool experience," the hooker told AFP.

Common beginnings

Halafihi and Faiva, both 29, started together on the Waikato Chiefs youth teams.

Then Faiva played for the Auckland Blues before moving to Europe in 2017 to join Treviso in Italy. Halafihi made a one-season stop in Lyon, before joining Faiva at Benetton Treviso in 2018.

There, they were coached by the current coach of Italy, Kieran Crowley, also from New Zealand, who convinced them to wear the colors of Italy, once they became eligible.

Faiva made her debut with Nazionale in November 2021 and Halafihi a few months later at the 2022 Six Nations Tournament.

Back to the Hurricanes this season, Faiva will meet Friday night (21:00) in Lyon teammates, such as Ardie Savea, captain of the Blacks. "+Ards+ (Savea) and I talked about a lot of stuff this week. We never talk about rugby, it's more about friendship than anything else," Faiva said.

However, All Blacks are never far from his mind. "I play for Italy, but I still love All Blacks because growing up," he says, "they showed me what rugby was and made me love it."


If the two players will give everything for their new colors Friday, at the time of kick-off, at their relatives remained in New Zealand, it will be necessary to choose his side.

"My parents will support Italy and all my friends will support me and support the All Blacks, from 50-50 what!" laughed Faiva.

The dilemma is even more pronounced in Halafihi. "My children love the Haka and asked me: +Are you going to sing the national anthem and do the Haka'?" the third line reads.

The idea of responding to the Haka... by a Haka even crossed the minds of both players: "Hame and I talked about doing a Haka, just the two of us!" joked Halafihi.

"But joking aside, it would almost be a challenge: a Haka facing the Haka would bring some electricity," he adds.

Electric, original, but not quite innovative.

In 2008, while New Zealand were touring Europe, she played a midweek match against Munster, where Kiwis Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Rua Tipoki and Jeremy Manning performed a Haka before the All Blacks did theirs, much to the delight of the Red Army who populate the stands of Thomond Park. the Munstermen's lair in Limerick.

Asked about a potential "counter-Haka" made by the two Italian-New Zealanders, All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor said he did not mind.

"If they want to do it because that's where they come from, then why not," he said.

© 2023 AFP