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All Blacks-Samoa warm-up Test confirmed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017 Angelo Risso

The All Blacks' pre-British and Irish Lions hit-out against Samoa has been confirmed for June 16 in Auckland.

The world champions, whose first Test against the Lions falls on June 24, will take on Manu Samoa at Eden Park, preceded by a Test between Tonga and Wales.

It's a match-up the Kiwi outfit are highly likely to win, having triumphed in all six of their clashes against Samoa since 1993.

But with a number of All Blacks regulars currently on the sidelines - including Ben Smith, Dane Coles, Jerome Kaino and skipper Kieran Read - it's a fixture many players may need to shake out the cobwebs.

Stalwarts Read and Kaino in particular - suffering from thumb and knee issues respectively - are unlikely to play much, if any, rugby before the Samoa match.

The Test also gives the All Blacks' coaching staff a pressure-free opportunity to try new combinations or make last-minute tweaks and experiments before the three-Test Lions series, the first on Kiwi shores since 2005.

The first Test on June 24 in Auckland will be followed by a second Test in Wellington on July 1 and a third in Auckland on July 8.

"It allows us to fill a need for ourselves, as we need a game to prepare for the Lions, and also give something back to Pasifika rugby," coach Steve Hansen said.

"June has always historically been a struggle for us because you've got the need to bring players from five franchises together, and traditionally it takes a little bit of time - having a game will allow us to speed that process up."

Samoan boss Namulauulu Alama, meanwhile, said the clash would set his side up perfectly for their Test with the Welsh in Apia on June 23.

With Auckland home to the largest Pacific Island population in the world, Alama hoped Samoa and Tonga would be well-supported at Eden Park.

"We welcome the opportunity to give our players some much-needed Test rugby, as well as a rare opportunity to play the best team in the world," Alama said.

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