On a night to remember, Vodafone Warriors captain-for-the-day Simon Mannering was very much the man of the hour but Aucklander Ngahere Raharaha produced the magical moment with his spine-tingling one-man tribute haka.
The 29-year-old Mannering had just walked through a guard of honour formed by team-mates and staff to fete him after his landmark 250th NRL game when Raharaha launched into a haka which cut the air.
Almost at once the cheering and clapping ceased and Mannering stopped where he was, looking up above the tunnel to pay respect to Raharaha before reaching up to shake his hand when the haka finished.
The video of the performance captured by www.warriors.kiwi has gone viral since being posted on the club’s Facebook page on Sunday morning. Its reach is more than 1.2 million with almost 270,000 views, 11,000 likes, more than 2500 shares and close to 650 comments. In short it has been going gangbusters.
Included among the comments was this from Raharaha: "I performed this Haka last night to Mannering for the respect that he deserves, as a Maori we respect our elders and it shows that respect went both ways. Thanks for stopping Simon Mannering."
And: "Awesome haka for an awesome NZ sports role model. Simon Mannering epitomizes humility through consistency. Power through performance...unsung hero for so long on so many levels...thank you for you."