Ma'a Nonu, shoeless in Soweto

BY TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2010
Ma'a Nonu
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HOTFOOTING IT: Ma'a Nonu, minus one boot, makes the break that led to the All Blacks' dramatic last-gasp try in the thrilling win over South Africa.

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Ma'a Nonu, you shoeless son of a gun.

If there's a moment the All Blacks' season will be remembered for, it may well be their second five-eighth's match-deciding and season-defining line break in Soweto.

But it won't just be because he put substitute Israel Dagg over for the matchwinner, breaking the 22-22 deadlock. It'll also be because Nonu was wearing only one boot.

His other was in the despairing grip of Springbok skipper John Smit, who had missed his bootlace attempt and lay, distraught and staring into Nonu's size 12, on the 10-metre line.

After celebrating with his jubilant team-mates Nonu was seen to inquire something along the lines of "where's my boot?"

It's one of those moments that will go down in sporting folklore, and it also conjured up the story of American baseball player Joe Jackson, of Chicago Black Sox infamy.

"Shoeless Joe" suffered from blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, and they hurt so much that he had to take his shoes off before stepping up to bat.

As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted, "You shoeless son of a gun, you!".

It's unlikely that South Africa's screaming fans were quite so tactful in their descriptions, or whether "One-boot Ma'a" has quite the same ring as the Jackson moniker.

Whatever the case, it was a moment that added to a great All Blacks test that is sure to be written into folklore in the years to come.

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