New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is on the hunt for some shorter companions to accompany him into the All Blacks changing room after what he is confident will be a victorious World Cup final for New Zealand.
A photo of the prime minister shaking hands with towering lock Sam Whitelock following New Zealand’s semi-final win over South Africa became an internet sensation, but Mr Key was quick to shout down the accuracy of the picture.
“He is not that tall, and I am not that short, OK?” Mr Key told reporters in London on Friday.
While the prime minister has been criticised by some for his dressing room visit, he looks set to return to the players’ quarters after Saturday’s decider.
“I’m going to have to get a few dwarfs in, get them to come in with me,” he joked.
“Aaron Smith, he’s not that tall either, I’ll have to restrict my photos to shorter people.”
With regards to the outcome of the match, Mr Key remains confident he will come out on top in his wager with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The pair have agreed that the leader of the losing country will wear a tie in the other country’s colours in parliament during question time.
“This All Blacks side has a point to prove, that they can win back-to-back cups. They desperately want to beat Australia, the record shows that they can,” Mr Key said.
“It’s sport and anything can happen, but my money’s on the All Blacks.”
He also noted the contribution of a number of retiring players, including Richie McCaw, saying their contribution to the game and as ambassadors for New Zealand had been enormous.
While McCaw had previously turned down the offer of a knighthood, Mr Key indicated that was something that could be revisited if the long-serving player wanted it.
“For our country, it does matter whether we win the game or not, but, win or lose, we’ll know that the All Blacks will have given 110 per cent,” Mr Key said.
“I have no doubt there’ll be a lot of lights on at three o’clock in the morning New Zealand time watching the game.”