A proud moment for Kapiti All Black Dane Coles
With tears rolling down his cheeks, Dane Coles' emotion was there for all to see.
In the ring-fenced, cliche-driven world of professional sport, this sort of heart-felt desire is rare, especially in rugby, a historically macho environment.
Coles should be applauded - not embarrassed - for expressing himself during the anthem before the win over the French at Eden Park.
The Hurricanes hooker is not the first, nor will be the last, to be choked up at the realisation of a boyhood dream.
Countless other budding rugby hopefuls have re-enacted their All Black heroes in the backyard - pretended to sing the anthem with their eyes closed and hand over the silver fern.
For some Kiwi blokes, playing for the All Blacks is the equivalent of a woman's longing for the perfect wedding day. That could certainly be true of Coles.
He played four tests from the bench in Europe last year but his starting debut at home was, clearly, more meaningful.
"I was hoping no-one would notice," Coles said.
"It was a combination of things; my first start, being at home in front of my family. It just all built up. The tears took over I suppose. Not one of my best moments but something I'm proud of.
"As soon as the haka started I had to put a brave face on and get the tears away. It went so quick. It was good to get through the game. It was a very proud moment for me."
A stereotypical front-rower is supposed to project a gnarly, rough image, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen endorsed Coles' public display of passion.
"I'm pleased he's emotional about it beforehand, it means something to him and you want that," Hansen said yesterday.
"Afterwards he had a wee inner sense of satisfaction that he'd done a good job, and he should have."
Indeed, Coles should be pleased with his first solid start.
The All Blacks' scrum won a points victory over the French. While his line-out throwing requires more work, that core skill was not helped by Sam Whitelock's absence.
Around the field and on defence Coles could not be faulted for 55 minutes.
"The first half was definitely good," he said. "The second half I kind of let myself down with my lineout throwing. I didn't hit a few targets. That's something I'll have to work on during the week to get that right for Christchurch.
"Their forwards are strong at scrummaging and their cleanout, they get real low over the ball, so we're going to have to sort that out."
It will be interesting to see whether Coles has done enough to retain the No 2 jersey. He is certain to be involved, but Hansen may want a stronger presence at the breakdown. That would favour veteran Andrew Hore, who acts as a fourth loose-forward. But for now at least, Hansen is standing by his 26-year-old prodigy.
"He had come off very limited rugby, one outing against the Brumbies," he said.
"To be launched straight into an international - it's tough work, hard on the lungs, and I thought he played well. He'll just go up and up from there I'm sure."