RWC 2011: Wallabies welcomed warmly in host country
Story and Photo: www.rugbyworldcup.com
AUCKLAND, 6 Sept - Mayor Les Brown likely spoke for many New Zealanders in his welcoming remarks to Australia's squad, who arrived for Rugby World Cup 2011 on Tuesday.
"We love to hate each other on the sporting field but we're brothers in arms,'' said Brown.
The Wallabies beat New Zealand in the Tri Nations tournament last month and All Blacks fans would like nothing more than to see that result reversed at the World Cup.
"There is probably no team we want to beat more," said the stage announcer to the crowd as the bus carrying the Australians arrived at the event.
The close ties between Australia and New Zealand were mentioned several times during the hour-long ceremony.
Fly half Quade Cooper, wing Digby Ioane and coach Robbie Deans were born in New Zealand.
"For those team members who were born in this land and make Australia their home, welcome back to our shores," said the stage announcer.
Australia captain James Horwill spoke on behalf of the Wallabies to an enthusiastic crowd who packed Auckland's Aotea Square.
"It is a very special occasion to be here, especially with a number of guys having heritage from this area,'' he said.