Mexted follows in his famous All Black cousins footsteps
USA lock forward Hayden Mexted may not be named after a famous former rugby player but he is related to one.
The 33-year-old is a distant cousin of ex-New Zealand great Murray Mexted who played for the All Blacks in the first ever World Rugby Classic in Bermuda in 1988.
Twenty four years on and Hayden, a Kiwi who now lives in the US, will follow in his famous relatives footsteps when he lines up for the Eagles in this years Classic.
Since they lived in different regions of New Zealand, the pair did not meet until the 2007 World Cup when Hayden was part of the USA squad, although he followed Murrays career closely as a youngster.
I enjoyed watching Murray play rugby on TV. I boasted to my friends we were related although we never met, he said.
Hes a distant cousin. Since we lived in different regions of New Zealand, we never met. He probably didn't even know I existed.
It wasn't until the 2007 World Cup when I met him. He was exceptionally nice and wished me luck in the games.
While Haydens forename is the same as the surname of another All Black player, the legendary Andy Haden, he said his mother hadnt named him after the uncompromising lock forward.
It is pretty weird I'm called Hayden Mexted but my parents did not name me after any famous rugby players, he said. My mom is a nurse and she claims I'm named after a cute little boy she met at the hospital. Hayden is a pretty common name in New Zealand.
Hayden moved to the US when he met his wife in St Louis, where he was playing rugby at the time, and received his call-up to the Eagles national team in 2007, making seven appearances.
Im honoured to be playing for the USA, said Hayden, who at six foot five will be one of the tallest players at the Classic. I travelled to the US in 2000 to play rugby for the St Louis Bombers and thought playing rugby was a great way to see the country.
I travelled back and forth for years and met my wife Beth in 2003. We lived in St Louis until 2009 then moved to Colorado for my job. I immediately started playing rugby for Aspen. I still live in Colorado and love it. It reminds me of home.
Although hes recently retired from the game, Hayden hopes he has many Classics ahead of him.
I have never been to Bermuda. Have always wanted to go. One of my wife's college friends lives in Bermuda and she has asked us to visit many times. The rugby classic finally got us here, he said.
Im recently retired. I still come out to play in fun tournaments. Can you ever really 'retire' from rugby? I love the game.
USA take on South Africa at 8.45pm tomorrow at the National Sports Centre.
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