All Blacks acknowledge Muhammad Ali's death

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Lynn McConnell     06 Jun 2016     Getty Images

As they reassembled in Auckland on Monday to prepare for the first Steinlager Test of their three-game series in Auckland on Saturday, the death of the man known as The Greatest, was the talk of the All Blacks side.

Legend has it that one touring All Blacks team ran into Ali at an airport during a tour and when he asked them who they were, they replied they were, 'the All Blacks' and Ali's alleged response was 'with a name like that you have got to be the greatest'.

Hooker Dane Coles said at the team's Monday press conference that the players had felt his death.

"He was a pretty special man and it is obviously sad to see him go," Coles said.

"He was a lot of inspiration to the boys – a lot of the boys follow the boxing."

Coles said he had watched clips of Ali's fights when he was growing up because his father had been a fan.

"It's very sad to see one of the greats of world sport pass away. He would have touched a few of the boys and inspired a few of the boys to be professional rugby players."

Team-mate Charlie Faumuina said since Ali's death he had enjoyed seeing some of his fights replayed on television and seeing what type of man he was.

Coles said Ali was probably one of the original trash talkers and said he definitely didn't have Ali's knack.

"He had a natural gift for that and everyone was so entertained because he kept people so engaged and on the edge of their seats so watching some of that stuff was pretty cool," he said.