Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
Twickenham - The All Blacks have turned to a war hero for inspiration ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown against South Africa on Saturday (17:00 SA time).
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With Saturday's crunch match at Twickenham expected to be filled with military symbolism and a trench warfare mentality on both sides, Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata has joined the All Blacks camp.
Apiata was awarded the highest British Commonwealth honour for bravery when he carried a gravely wounded comrade across a battlefield, under fire, to safety in Afghanistan.
"He's a special New Zealander," All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said on the eve of the Test.
"He's a good man to have around and the boys enjoy hearing a few of his stories and calming words.
"If you talk about being in pressure environments, he's probably been in environments that are a damn sight more pressured than we end up with."
The All Blacks have maintained close military links in recent years.
Before a French Test in 2000, then captain Anton Oliver led his side to a Belgian cemetery, the burial site of 1905 captain Dave Gallaher who was killed at the Battle of Passchendale in 1917.
Apiata, a former corporal in the SAS, was also invited into the All Blacks camp before they beat France in the 2011 World Cup final.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams