James Slipper: Boomerang is a tribute to Australia’s indigenous culture

Dylan Coetzee

Wallabies captain James Slipper insists that his side respects the haka and that standing in a boomerang shape is a connection to the indigenous people in Australia.

All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane was called out by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie as the star accused his rivals of not respecting the haka after the Australians lined up in a boomerang shape whilst advancing as the challenge was laid.

Respect for the All Blacks

Slipper agreed with Rennie’s sentiment claiming it is their team’s way of accepting the challenge. The skipper very clearly outlined the Wallabies’ respect for the haka.

“We respect the haka, we respect the All Blacks team,” he said.

“In every game we come up against New Zealand, we know it’s going to be a tough outing and you’ve got to pay your respect to that.

“Historically they’re a successful team and nation in rugby. They’ve won the Bledisloe for the past 20 years, so we do respect them. We’re just accepting the challenge.”

Slipper says that Rennie initiated the decision to stand in a boomerang, and the team took it on board to pay tribute to the indigenous people of Australia.

“We definitely talk all together as a team, but he initiated the boomerang and all of us boys really want to involve the indigenous culture within our nation,” he said.

“We find that’s really important, we play in the indigenous jersey a few times now each year and that’s something we’re really proud of.

“So it’s a taste of our nation, our way of accepting the challenge.”

The front-row insists that, although his side does not play much against teams like Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, who also lay down a challenge before a match, the Wallabies will look to approach those situations in the same way.

“We haven’t really played too much against those teams, but it’s something that we’d look at, definitely,” he said.

Searching for first Eden Park win since 1986

Slipper believes the debate around the haka adds to the game, but his primary goal is to lead the Wallabies to their first win over the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1986.

“I think it’s good,” he said.

“We’ve lost the trophy and that’s probably the most important thing that has come out of game one and that’s the disappointing thing.

“Every time you get to pull on the Wallabies jersey it’s a proud moment for us as players.

“But to play against the All Blacks, for us in the Australian team, we love it.

“There’s plenty riding on this and we haven’t won here since the 80s.

“It’s going to be a big effort from us to get the result, but we’re hell bent on getting a performance in.”

Bledisloe I ended with a controversial time-wasting call that clouded the impressive Wallaby comeback from 31-13 down to be in a position to claim the game. The 33-year-old said the team discussed that in the build-up to this weekend’s Test.

“It certainly wasn’t lost on the inside of our group,” Slipper added.

“We’ve spoken about the character we showed in the second half. We were down to 13 for a while and that’s when the ABs piled on the points.

“They’re a team that it’s hard enough to play against with 15 players, so we did well to get our noses in front there in the end, it was just a tough way to lose the game. “But I’m extremely proud of the way the boys turned up and what we’re after is another performance like that.”

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