Cane: Maradona tribute a gesture of respect

New Zealand captain Sam Cane credited scrumhalf TJ Perenara with the idea of presenting a Diego Maradona jersey to Argentina before their Tri-Nations clash.

In the buildup to Saturday’s Tri-Nations match, Cane laid an All Blacks shirt with the name Maradona and No 10 on the back on Argentina’s side of the halfway line before the haka.

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This came after the legendary Argentinian footballer had passed away last Wednesday, with tributes flooding in from across the globe.

While not knowing a lot about soccer, Cane said the players in the team did know what Maradona meant and he felt it was the right thing to do.

‘It was a gesture, a token of paying our respects to an Argentinian legend and a world legend in his field,’ Cane said after New Zealand’s 38-0 victory.

‘Rugby’s a game that, first and foremost, is built on respect, I believe, and it was respectful and the right thing to do.’

Argentina captain Pablo Matera said Cane told him at the coin toss that the All Blacks were going to make the presentation.

‘We are very thankful for that. Maradona was obviously huge for Argentina, so I am really thankful for that gesture from the All Blacks,’ Matera said.

Matera added the side had taken energy from his death because Maradona had represented the country in the best way possible as a sportsman, and the Pumas wanted to represent their country in that same way.

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Argentina will conclude their Tri-Nations campaign with the final match of the tournament against the Wallabies on Saturday.

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images