Which Haka will Boks get?

13 September 2013 - 05:04 By Simnikiwe Xabanisa

One of my preoccupations as a rugby fan is figuring out which Haka the All Blacks will unfurl before a Test match.

The Haka may resemble a well-choreographed rain dance, but sometimes it can give one an insight into the All Blacks' state of mind before a game.

An example of what I mean by that is what former Springbok lock Mark Andrews used to say about the French when he was a player.

Andrews reckoned if Les Tricolores started bawling their eyes out during their national anthem, it would be a tough day at the office, in which the opposition's eyeballs and anything in the nether regions were not safe.

It's the same with the Haka, where the All Blacks tend to go through the motions when doing the 107-year-old Ka Mate version, but appear to be imminently more threatening when doing Kapa o Pango.

The latter version only made its public debut before the All Blacks' Test against the Boks in Dunedin in 2005. The basic difference is that Kapa o Pango was developed by the team for the team, with the lyrics specifically about the All Blacks.

It's supposed to scare the crap into a bloke, what with the throat-slitting gesture at the end when it was first introduced, but I found it tended to encourage even a wee Saffer like myself to froth at the mouth at the merest hint of a Kiwi checking me skeef.

Given the competitive history between the two countries, there was no coincidence in the choice of opponent against which to unleash the gangster Haka, and seeing it live at the old House of Pain (Carisbrook Stadium) is a highlight of my rugby-writing career.

It's just as well they didn't do it against the Aussies, because while former Bok captain John Smit said it was a privilege to face it, the Aussies couldn't stop whining about the throat-slitting.

As a result, Kapa o Pango has been used sparingly and when the All Blacks feel they have a point to prove, or are taking the opposition seriously for a change.

I say for a change because last year, they sleepwalked to just one defeat all year and gave the impression they were having more trouble picking a Haka than with the teams they were playing against.

There'll be none of that poncy nonsense against the Boks on Saturday.

Sure, the Boks have history to contend with, having not won in Auckland since 1937. But they also have form on their side, which sees them top the Rugby Championship table and having scored more tries than Steve Hansen's men after three matches.

The Boks go into this game with clarity of thought about how they want to play. They aim to play for territory and dominate the set pieces and collisions.

They also won't be trying to beat the All Blacks by outplaying them at their own game. Rather they will prevent them hitting that breakneck pace at which they like to play by disrupting them and slowing things down.

It won't be pretty, but some eggs have to be broken to defy history.

That it will be a contest for a change is not in doubt, the only thing in doubt is how the Boks will respond to Kapa o Pango.

Given how PC they are these days (the players thump the Protea badge as opposed to the Springbok whenever they do well), they'll probably obediently stand at their 10m line until the Blacks have finished frothing at the mouth.

Personally, I'd like to see them send out a demented Heyneke Meyer to reprise his frightening Walkie Talkie routine while facing the Haka.