Tokyo - Prop Joe Moody said on Friday he hoped the All Blacks could inspire a younger generation to play rugby with their Rugby World Cup semi-final against England, as New Zealand schoolboys increasingly turn to video games and football.
Rugby is commonly held to be like a religion in New Zealand, but studies have shown participation rates falling among young people, especially boys.
"There's a heap less guys playing rugby now in New Zealand through the younger grades and secondary school. Probably too much PlayStation and soccer to be fair," Moody said ahead of Saturday's game.
A report commissioned earlier this year by New Zealand Rugby found that while the game was booming among schoolgirls, boys were increasingly turning to alternative sports such as basketball.
Figures from School Sport NZ show the number of schoolboy rugby players declined from 25 841 in 2014 to 21 532 in 2018, a fall of 17 percent, which the report described as an "alarming" drop.
"If we can put on a decent show out there tomorrow night and through all of our games that we play and make it look somewhat attractive for the younger generation, that would be great," said Moody.
"The only way to do that is to show them how good it can be if you get out there and play it and play it well," added the prop.
Assistant All Blacks coach Ian Foster admitted it was an "ongoing problem" to get kids playing but stressed that rugby was not the only sport facing the issue.
Rugby officials in New Zealand are "working hard to sell the game, to educate people about the game", he said.
But Foster added that he did not have all the answers because "I've spent most of this week preparing for a semi-final rather than solving the secondary school problem".
"We're doing okay but it's something we're really conscious of as a sport. Our initial responsibility of this team is to show it's a sport we're passionate about and we love."
Saturday's clash in Yokohama kicks off at 10:00 (SA time).
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Cody Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Jordie Barrett
15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph