All Blacks to 'train' against provinces
All Blacks to 'train' against provincesSHARE
All Black coach Steve Hansen hopes a double hit-out against two provincial opponents will once again have his team primed for the Rugby Championship.
Two 40-minute games against Wellington and Canterbury have been scheduled for August 9 in Wellington, eight days ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Sydney.
The All Blacks did the same thing last year against Counties Manukau and Auckland in Pukekohe.
Hansen said in a statement those matches were ideal preparation for his players and he hoped the same outcome can be achieved in the afternoon fixtures at Lower Hutt's Hutt Recreation Ground.
"Last year's hit out against Counties Manukau and Auckland was great for our preparations for the first Test of the Championship, so it's great we are able to do the same this year with Wellington and Canterbury."
The All Blacks will be in Wellington to prepare for the Bledisloe Cup and opening Rugby Championship Test against Australia in Sydney on Saturday, August 17.
The team will base themselves in Wellington before flying to Sydney on the Thursday before the Test and return to Wellington on Sunday to prepare for the return Bledisloe Cup Test at Wellington's Westpac Stadium the following Saturday, August 24.
Wellington coach Chris Boyd and Canterbury counterpart Scott Robertson said the games would also suit them well, less than a week before the NPC provincial championship kicks off.
They will play each other for 40 minutes before the All Blacks play Canterbury for 40 minutes, followed by Wellington.
"We are very excited about hosting this unique match," Boyd said.
"It will be six days before we begin the NPC so provides a real test of our systems and combinations against the best in the world. It is a fantastic opportunity for our home-grown players, many straight from our club rugby competition, to see what it takes to reach the next level."
The opening round of the NPC will kick off the following week, with Wellington taking on Counties Manukau and Canterbury playing Taranaki.
"It is a unique opportunity for the Canterbury boys to play the All Blacks and we're extremely excited about it," Robertson said.
"For our players to play the ultimate team is fantastic for our preparation for the upcoming NPC season."