“Apia Park hasn’t hosted a match involving the All Blacks before, and it’s very important we provide stadium management with advice on how the venue can meet the needs of high-level global rugby”, Mr Johnson says.
Samoa is the first of five Tests the All Blacks have before Hansen settles on a 31-man squad to defend their world championship.
Toulouse have expressed their “surprise” at the call-up of prop Census Johnston for Samoa’s historic home Test match against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Keys: Matching the grizzled All Blacks pack is the biggest challenge for Samoa, who are far more worldly wise in the arts of tight five play these days due to their players’ involvement in French and English club rugby.
“Being the first test of the year heading into the World Cup, it’s hugely significant for both teams… but I know after the final whistle we’ll be able to shake hands and resume our friendships as they are and enjoy each other’s company which is what rugby’s all about”.
His last act in an All Blacks jersey was to kick the ball out at the end of the final to conclude New Zealand’s victory over France.
The team will be captained by influential No 8 Ofisa Treviranus, who will have his hands full in competing with the All Black loose forwards.
“The airline has been instrumental in not only getting the All Blacks to Tests, but also connecting the team to more fans around the world through its clever marketing campaigns, charter flights and special community events. Because if we don’t control that aggression, the game can fly off the handle”, Betham said. Their most recent match in 2008 was a blowout – the All Blacks prevailed 101-14.
The 31-year-old Ellis was originally brought in as cover for Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who were all named in the original 41-man squad picked by coach Steve Hansen.
“You’ve got a whole nation who are going to be lining the streets and from what I’ve read already, the place is going off and that emotion can really lift a player”, he said.
The players barely ran as they put the youngsters from 21 different schools through drills but it was apparent they were still doing it tough in the humidity, constantly wiping sweat from their brow and guzzling bottles of water. “We need to gauge ourselves before the World Cup and we want to gauge ourselves against the best”.