Rugby World Cup
Ma'a Nonu honoured to receive 100th New Zealand cap from Richie McCaw
Tristan Barclay
October 9, 2015
New Zealand 47-9 Tonga (video available in Australia only)

Ma'a Nonu has said he was honoured to receive his 100th New Zealand cap from skipper and fellow centurion Richie McCaw after his side's demolition of Pool C opponents Tonga in Newcastle.

Veteran centre Nonu marked his entry into the 100 club with a try in the thumping 47-9 victory at St James' Park, a win that ensured the All Blacks finish top of their pool as they eye a second successive Rugby World Cup title.

Despite being rested for the clash with a sore hip, McCaw was on hand following the final whistle to award Nonu a commemorative cap on the touchline as the New Zealand and Tonga squads gathered round to applaud the 33-year-old.

© Phil Walter/Getty Images

"It was an amazing honour for me to receive my cap from Richie," Nonu said. "He's one of the most inspiring players in the country, so I'm stoked. I'll cherish this when I see my parents and family, but I'll enjoy tonight with the boys."

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Nonu is now the fifth member of New Zealand's current World Cup squad with 100 appearances or more, with McCaw, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, and Dan Carter adding their vast experience to Steve Hansen's side.

However, rather than soak up the praise he has rightfully earned in passing the milestone, Nonu chose to pay tribute to his teammates following the rout of Tonga.

"We're lucky to have most of the centurions still playing," he said. "It's a credit and testament to the likes of Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu that they're still soldiering on and earning caps, especially in the front row. It's a dark, dark place in the front row and they're still surviving, so it's awesome to see."

Speaking in his post-match press conference, New Zealand head coach Hansen admitted he would give up his entire coaching career to play just once for the All Blacks, let alone make 100 appearances.

"I was never good enough to play for the All Blacks and I'd give up all my days coaching just to have played one game," he said. "But Ma'a has played 100 games and anyone who does that for the All Blacks means you are a good player.

"Over the years he has matured into one of the best centres we've ever had. He should be extremely proud. We're proud of him and for him to score tonight was special."

New Zealand now face either Ireland or France in the last-eight, with the two Northern Hemisphere sides battling it out in Cardiff on Sunday for the right to be crowned Pool D winners. Nonu, however, insisted he was not concentrating on the quarterfinals and instead planned to enjoy a night of celebration.

"I haven't looked that far ahead," he added. "I'm just going to enjoy tonight with our team and then we need to prepare well for next week."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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