13 Oct 2008

Wiki farewells with a win

5:59 am on 13 October 2008

Rugby League legend Ruben Wiki had a final New Zealand send-off to savour as the All Golds beat the New Zealand Maori 44-10 in New Plymouth last night.

Wiki's last match in New Zealand, and possibly his last anywhere after 16 seasons at first-grade level, also served to belatedly farewell legendary Kiwi halfback Stacey Jones at home as well as long-time former international Logan Swann and veteran Vodafone Warrior Wairangi Koopu.

This match, which saw the All Golds playing in New Zealand for the first time since their only previous appearance in June 1908, showcased not just quality servants of the game in Wiki, Jones and Swann but also the bulk of the Kiwis' squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

It also showcased inarguably the most exceptional array of pre-match haka seen before any major sporting event, three in all including riveting efforts from both the Maori and the All Golds.

For the All Golds Manu Vatuvei and Lance Hohaia scored 2 tries each, while Wiki touched down at the final hooter.

The Kiwis play Tonga in Auckland on Saturday before playing Australia when the World Cup starts in Sydney on October 26.