Key players among contenders to lead All Blacks haka against Wales

By Tamati Tiananga

The All Blacks will perform the haka for the first time this year against Wales at Eden Park tonight.

In the absence of retired player Keven Mealamu and Tūhoe's Liam Messam, to the All Blacks Sevens, the question is who will now lead the haka?

Halfback Aaron Smith of Ngāti Kahungunu is looming as the front-runner to lead tonight’s haka.

Smith says,We just did our normal practice during the week

Kieran Read is also in the running. He has been appointed to the captaincy role for the 2016 Steinlager Series squad. He first captained the All Blacks in 2012 against Italy.

Read says,I have a pretty able assistant beside me (Aaron Smith) who goes good at the haka.”

Earlier this week playmaker Aaron Cruden revealed both Read and Smith have been preparing to lead the haka with a final call to be made closer to the game.

It's not uncommon for a captain not to lead the haka, In the past Liam Messam and Piri Weepu have taken up the role.

Occasionally former Captain Richie McCaw would lead the haka.

Tana Umaga led the first rendition of Kapa Ōpango when they took on South Africa in August in 2005.

Tonight will be the beginning of a new era, Will Read be up to the task or will the role be handed to Smith, one thing is for sure, whoever is chosen will no doubt do the job justice.