It’s not every day you get a call from the All Blacks coach, but for one fan coming to support his team in Japan that was exactly what happened.
This fan isn’t just any rugby fan though, he’s the All Blacks "super fan".
Kristen Whiu from Wainuiomata became famous for his energetic reaction to New Zealand winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“My partner posted it on Facebook and one thing lead to another, within half and hour it had 50,000 likes by the end of the day it grew, and we had a couple of million views.”
Whiu's new found social media fame earned him the title of All Blacks super fan and got the attention of world media, including the BBC.
“That was a bit of a life changing experience being on BBC World News,” Whiu says.
On his Facebook page with over 16,000 likes, the All Blacks super fan posts his love for his favourite team. It’s a love which he’s had since he was a child.
“My father would wake me up at two or three in the morning to watch the All Blacks on TV ... so I think that it’s just ingrained in me as for most Kiwis in New Zealand. It’s just part of what we do – we have honey on toast, Wheetbix, we watch the All Blacks.”
When the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan rolled around Whiu made sure he would see his team play, but what he didn’t expect was for the team he’s supported since a young boy to reach out to him.
“We had a text saying: ‘Hey when you guys land in Japan give Steve Hansen a call’,” Whiu said.
A call to Steven Hansen saw Whiu and two of his friends who travelled with him invited to the Captain’s Run before the All Blacks opening Rugby World Cup match against the Springboks.
“We went there two hours early because we didn’t want to miss anything.
“We got to see a training run - which was such an honour to be in the presence of the All Blacks.”
The likes of Beauden Barrett and Steve Hansen spent time with Whiu and his mates talking about rugby and Japanese culture.
“They’re just normal blokes at the end of the day.”
With a suitcase only filled with All Blacks kit that most rugby fans can only dream of, Whiu says his wants to stay humble despite the fame and is making the most of every opportunity that comes his way.
“I’m just one of 4.5, 5 million fans back in New Zealand doing the same thing.”