Rugby fan Prince Harry meets All Blacks on NZ tour

Rugby fan Prince Harry meets All Blacks on NZ tour

AUCKLAND - Britain's Prince Harry met current and former All Blacks during his tour of New Zealand Friday and was presented with a jersey from the reigning world champions.

The fifth in line to the throne, an avid fan of the England rugby team, visited a spinal rehabilitation unit at Auckland's Middlemore hospital and was welcomed by All Blacks legend Colin Meads.

He also chatted with current stars Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu, who gave him a jersey bearing the name P. Harry and the number 15.

"He was like, 'Finally, I get one of these'," Mealamu said.

"It was pretty special to have him come in."

It was one of the highlights of what turned out to be a rugby-themed day for the 30-year-old, beginning in Mangere, the gritty South Auckland suburb where All Black superstar Jonah Lomu grew up.

At the Southern Cross Campus school, he watched performances from Pacific island cultural groups representing Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Local woman Meri Tuhaka, whose granddaughter attends the school, said it was amazing to have a royal visit her neighbourhood.

"To think that he actually came to Mangere. I'll be talking about this for a long time," she said.

Student Santana Siaea talked rugby with Harry and bantered with the Prince after being asked if he wanted to be an All Black.

"He said that he'd kick my (butt) on the field, I was like 'we'll see about that'," Siaea said.

Harry also visited a nearby community centre for at-risk youth called Turn Your Life Around.

The prince took on the youths at pool, foosball table football and table tennis - not successfully, it must be said - joking: "I need to warm up."

He also left a purple handprint on a community artwork, dashing across the room to plant another one on the bald head of British newspaper photographer Arthur Edwards.

Amid the hijinks, there was also some serious words of advice from Harry, who asked the gathered youths if they had made bad choices in their lives.

"Were there consequences? Did you make it right? If you haven't made it right, you need to," he said.

Prince Harry will wrap up his eight-day trip to New Zealand on Saturday.

It follows a month-long secondment to the Australian army during which he received bush survival lessons and camped in the outback.

The 30-year-old will end his decade-long military career next month and has publicly pondered his future while in New Zealand, saying he is at a crossroads.

The one-time "party prince" has spoken of settling down and having children, saying he wants to carve out a role where he can "give something back".

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