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It’s either win or go home, says Angus Ta’avao of the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Ireland.
Joe Moody barely twitches an eyebrow if an opponent gives him a gobful on the rugby field.
Most people would avert their eyes and keep their traps shut if forced to share a narrow corridor with the All Blacks loosehead prop, let alone wind up him when his adrenaline is pumping during a test match.
Some still try their luck, though. The 122-kilogram Moody’s response? Nothing.
“I am normally too tired, catching my breath. I don’t really say anything to the opposition on the field,” Moody says.
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“Even when I get a sledge coming my way, I just sort of smile and give them a nod. I try not to get caught up in that side of things.”
Hookers, for whatever reason, can be more verbose.
The referee’s microphone sometimes relays snippets of Dane Coles chatting away, and Codie Taylor also doesn’t mind sharing his thoughts with opponents.
Moody, who will play his 44th test in the World Cup quarterfinal against Ireland at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday night, reckons he’s not wired that way.
“There’s definitely some guys who love to throw a bit of banter back and forth.
“It’s just that when I am on the field, it’s not in my nature to say anything back to anyone.”
The 31-year-old will have enough to keep occupied him against Ireland, in any case, as the All Blacks attempt to tame a scrum mentored by ex-All Black Greg Feek.
For Moody there will be a familiar foe in the shape of Tadhg Furlong, a man so burly he resembles a block of Oamaru stone decorated with a nose and eyes, in the green No 3 jersey.
RUGBY WORLD CUP
Students from Kashiwa Rugby School performed the haka in front of their All Black idols during the Rugby World Cup.
Moody and Furlong have clashed six times in the past; on four occasions during the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand (one was when the Crusaders lost 12-3 in Christchurch) in 2017, and twice in 2016 when the All Blacks played Ireland in Chicago and Dublin.
This promises to be a gladiatorial contest between two props ranked among the best in the sport, altho
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