The All Blacks' reputation as the hard men of world rugby may be tested by the admission of midfielder Ma'a Nonu that he wears eye makeup during matches.
Nonu told a television interviewer yesterday that he had recently begun wearing dark eyeliner in major games and would continue to do so on New Zealand's pending tour to Britain and Italy.
The Wellington center said his teammates gave him "some grief" over the habit but he was undeterred and would continue making a personal fashion statement.
Nonu said he had always tried to express his personality on the field.
He began by wearing dreadlocks and, when that became common among New Zealand players, experimented with various hair colors.
Using dark eyeliner, which he applies in the dressing room before games, was novel but might catch on with other players, Nonu said.
New Zealand will play tests against Italy, Wales and France and a match against the Barbarians on their Northern Hemisphere tour later this month.