Planet Rugby

All Blacks heading to US?

11th November 2013 12:09

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Steve Hansen ABs v Fra 2013

Enthusiastic: Steve Hansen

The New Zealand Rugby Union is negotiating to play a lucrative match in the USA next November with a game in or near New York the preferred option.

New Zealand recently played a Test against Japan in Tokyo, before heading to Europe, and NZRU CEO Steve Tew revealed that 2014 could see the All Blacks stopping over in the United States for a similar match.

The team is sponsored by US-based insurance company AIG.

"Japan was very successful, we were very happy with that, and we will be looking for a similar game in North America this time next year," Tew told reporters in Paris.

"We're advanced but there's still a bit to go. The hardest thing actually is who we play. We've got to sort that out first and foremost."

The game will fall outside the IRB's autumn window which means there is no obligation on clubs to release their players for the match. That will cause problems with the opposition as it would be in nobody's interests for the All Blacks to play against weak opposition.

The Springboks do not play games outside the window, and while the Wallabies would be available they are not believed to be being considered as the match would follow soon after three Bledisloe Cup matches.

"It's likely to be against some sort of invitational side," Tew added.

"We'll do our very best, but there will be a little bit of a compromise. No doubt some people will see what we're trying to achieve and accept it and others will be critical."

Tew was more certain about where he wanted the match to be played.

"Our first preference is the East Coast and to play somewhere close to New York, but we've got to find the appropriate stadium. It's got to be available that weekend, and it's got to be big enough," he said.

But he sidestepped suggestions the match was being played because it would make a large profit.

"It's driven by the fact [coach] Steve [Hanson] would like another game, and it would be very helpful for us to play in the American market," he explained.

"AIG are based there, though we're not committed contractually to do so."

Hansen is enthusiastic about the prospect of playing in the US.

"The States is not somewhere we've been a lot, so it's an exciting place to go," he said.

"What approach we take to that game, we'll have to see where we're sitting. It's an opportunity to really have a look at what happens at World Cup time, so do we just take 31 and deal with it, or if we're not quite satisfied where we are with the mix, do we take some younger guys again?

"By the time we have to pick that squad it's about 12 months away and we'll have answers to those questions."

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