All Blacks players have featured in an emotional ad for this year’s upcoming Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, opening up about what rugby union means to them.
Broadcaster Sky Sport has released a two-minute promotional video ahead of Friday’s curtain-raiser between the Highlanders and Crusaders with Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Dane Coles and Aaron Smith all featuring.
The video, titled “What. It. Means.”, has players from all five franchises speaking about what the game means to them and who they play for.
The answers got quite emotional with some holding back tears as they spoke.
“Rugby is my passion, I dreamt of playing Super Rugby, I dreamt of being an All Black but I never ever thought it would come true,” Lienert-Brown said.
“[I play] for my old man.”
Coles apologised during his section for pausing, admitting “it’s a tough one” to answer.
“It’s given me so much, mate – I’ve played this game since I was a young fella,” Coles said.
“It’s changed my life.”
Smith fought back tears as he stated rugby had “given him everything” in his life.
“I love this sport, I love everything it’s given me,” the halfback said before pausing.
“I’ve always dreamed of representing my country and the Highlanders gave me that.
“I owe this game everything.”
The All Blacks have become more open with sharing their emotional wellbeing in recent years while also promoting mental health awareness.
Players such as Lienert-Brown and Ardie Savea were part of series created by NZ Rugby last year called “Being Men”, in which they spoke about the tough challenges they’ve experienced and how they approached it for their mental wellbeing.
“We have to be mentally strong,” Savea said in a press conference last year.
“I think it’s something that is really underestimated in our game at the moment, that mental side and the pressure of dealing with it.
“We’re still trying to figure it out.”