All Blacks planning Lions warm-up match

Date published: March 18 2017

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and selector Grant Fox have both stated that the world champions will need some sort of warm-up fixture ahead of facing the British and Irish Lions.

Whereas the Lions will have faced the New Zealand Barbarians, Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Maori All Blacks and Chiefs before the first Test, New Zealand are not scheduled to play any warm-up matches.

Back in 2005 the All Blacks defeated Fiji 91-0 a fortnight before taking on the Lions in the first Test, going on to win the series 3-0.

Hansen, then an assistant to Graham Henry, now hopes to schedule a new fixture 12 years later.

“We’ll make that decision over the next couple of weeks whether we’re going to really push that. We either play an opposition or we play ourselves, but we’ll have to do something,” Hansen told the Sunday Star Times.

Referencing the build-up in 2005, Hansen said: “We got our selections right, and we got our preparation right.. We had a bit more time so we could play that game against Fiji. Those things helped.

“Selection and preparation will be the key again and if we get those right we give ourselves a good chance of starting well.”

Fox went further, describing the situation as “critical” ahead of the much anticipated series.

“We are vulnerable in that first game and that’s natural because we haven’t had any time together,” he said.

“The Lions will have had six games, and some good, tough preparation. We will have had two weeks of assembly time plus a wee hitout of some description.

“It’s critical, and it’s proved critical the last few years for us. We know a hitout is more beneficial than not having one.”