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New Zealand

All Blacks to face ITM Cup sides

24th July 2013 08:27

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Steve Hansen All Blacks coach 2013

Steve Hansen: Preparing for the Rugby Championship

The All Blacks will face the Wellington Lions and a Canterbury XV, in warm-up matches, as part of the teams' build-ups for the Rugby Championship and the ITM Cup.

Three 40-minute matches will be played at the Hutt Recreation Ground in Lower Hutt Wellington on August 9, eight days ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Sydney.

This follows the same a format of last year's successful All Blacks training matches against Counties Manukau and Auckland in Pukekohe.

Wellington will take on the Canterbury XV at 4pm, before the All Blacks squad play the Cantabrians at 4.50pm and Wellington then face against the national team at 5.45pm.

"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," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

After their clash with the Wallabies, the All Blacks will return to the capital to prepare for the return Bledisloe Cup Test at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on August 24.

They will, however, prepare for matches with their less illustrious opposition before those Tests.

"We are very excited about hosting this unique match," said Wellington coach Chris Boyd.

"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 homegrown players, many straight from our club rugby competition, to see what it takes to reach the next level."

Canterbury ITM Cup coach Scott Robertson said his side are looking forward to the training matches.

"It is a unique opportunity for the Canterbury boys to play the All Blacks and we're extremely excited about it," he explained.

"For our players to play the ultimate team is fantastic for our preparation for the upcoming ITM Cup season."

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