Wearing a signed Irish rugby jersey that was given to him by his good friend Jerry Flannery at his Munster farewell in 2009, Rua Tipoki gave a talk to an Irish squad who are gearing up for their five game series in New Zealand.
Although Tipoki only played two seasons for Munster, he is still considered a legend down south. His centre partnership with Lifeimi Mafi was also one of the main catalysts that helped Munster reach their zenith when they defeated Toulouse to win the 2008 Heineken Cup Final. The team that day featured the likes of Ireland forwards coach Paul O'Connell and Keith Earls.
"It was pretty daunting walking into the room," Tipoki said of his talk in front of the Irish squad. "Actually I didn’t know what to expect. I had a catch up with Paul and obviously Earlsie and Pete and some of the other boys. But like I said it really is a privilege and an honour to be in the room here."
We were delighted to meet up with @MunsterRugby legend Rua Tipoki in Auckland on Friday night!
Rua spoke to the Ireland squad about what it means to play for the Māori @AllBlacks ahead of our match in Hamilton next week.#TeamOfUs | #NZTour2022 pic.twitter.com/LKvb3Fr7wL
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) June 25, 2022
Maori and Munster rugby share a similar intense tribal camaraderie, and Tipoki is someone who has experienced the nature of both camps. This unique experience was tapped into by the Maori before their last tour of Ireland, and Tipoki details how he was tasked with giving them a team talk before they faced Munster in 2016.
"I was asked the last time the Maori’s toured Ireland, they played against Munster, the Maori asked me to come and speak to them and explain what it meant to play for Munster. And I just told them it’s the same, you have to have the same mentality. When a Maori goes out there he’s not just representing himself he’s representing family and his iwi."
Any chance to share one of the greatest rugby moments has to be jumped at, and this is as good an opportunity as any to showcase the Munster Haka once more, and the incredible scenes given to us by Tipoki, Howlett, Mafi, and Manning.