All Blacks coach Steve Hansen receives high chief title

Māori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper has just named his starting line-up to take on Fiji in Suva this weekend.

Their captain Charlie Ngatai has flown across to join the team this morning after debuting for the All Blacks yesterday against Samoa.

He's been living the All Blacks dream this week, getting a good taste of what an All Black means and enjoying the atmosphere in Samoa with his first All Black cap yesterday.

But Ngatai wasn't the only one leaving the hotel early this morning, Steve Hansen also was up at the crack of dawn for his own special reason.

A ceremony fit for a king or in this case a newly-appointed high chief.

Steve Hansen was honoured with a High Chief title at Vaiala Village this morning, recognising his involvement with getting the All Blacks to Samoa.

Rugby commentator, Ken Laban says, “There wouldn't be an All Blacks test in Samoa without Steve Hansen.  He told me the defining point in the decision to approve the game was when he spoke to the senior Samoan players in the team, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu and Ma'a Nonu.”

Vaiala Village has a long history with rugby and it's also home to Ken Laban's family, and it's that connection that brought the All Blacks coach to the village.

Laban says, “Apia Park is on Vaiala.  That land was gifted to the Union for the development of the park, so if there was ever going to be a village to recognise him with a matai title, it was Vaiala.”

The whole team has been treated like chiefs in Samoa, from the moment they landed, the parade, the official welcoming and the game.  The newest Vaiala chief says, it's been special.

Hansen says, “The whole Samoan week has been pretty special and particularly when we arrived right from the first get-go, out of the plane and it hasn't stopped really.  We've built some great relationships and got a win and didn't get anyone injured so it's been perfect really.”

It's also been special for the people of Samoa, every child, every mother, every father, everyone seeing a dream come to life.

Laban says, “At the end of the day it's just a game of football, but for the people of Samoa it's much more than that and the legacy that Steve Hansen and this All Black team will be long-lasting.”

A piece of history that will forever be remembered and cherished for generations to come.