Wed 24 Jul 2013

THE ALL Blacks will play two training matches against Wellington and a Canterbury XV in Lower Hutt next month.

The games are set to be staged on August 9 at the Hutt Recreation Ground as part of the side’s preparation for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

Wellington and Canterbury will kick things off with a 40 minute hitout, before the All Blacks take on the two provinces.

The training matches follow a similar format used last year when the national team took on Counties Manukau and Auckland in Pukekohe.

“Last year’s hitout against Counties Manukau and Auckland was great for our preparations for the first test of the [Rugby] Championship, so it’s great we are able to do the same this year with Wellington and Canterbury,” says All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Wellington coach Chris Boyd was excited to be hosting the match.

“It will be six days before we begin the ITM Cup 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.”

Canterbury coach Scott Robertson was looking forward to playing the Men in Black as well.

“It is a unique opportunity for the Canterbury boys to play the All Blacks and we’re extremely excited about it. For our players to play the ultimate team is fantastic for our preparation for the upcoming ITM Cup season.”

The All Blacks will base themselves in Wellington to prepare for the Bledisloe Cup and opening Rugby Championship test against Australia in Sydney on August 17.

The first round of the ITM Cup will also kick off that week, with Wellington taking on the promoted Counties Manukau and Canterbury playing Taranaki.