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All Blacks taking Samoa seriously: Hansen

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017

All Black coach Steve Hansen talks to the team as they prepare for their official team photo session on June 15, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. © Phil Walter/Getty Images All Black coach Steve Hansen talks to the team as they prepare for their official team photo session on June 15, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. The All Blacks might have one eye on the touring British and Irish Lions, but will not be taking Samoa lightly, coach Steve Hansen says.

The Samoans have never tasted victory over the All Blacks and will be underdogs again in Friday's Eden Park Test as the world champions bring a near full strength team.

In the most notable All Black change, Ben Smith will become New Zealand's 68th Test skipper as he replaces regular captain Kieran Read, sidelined with a thumb injury.

"Reado's the only person missing from what would be one of our strongest line ups, so we're taking the serious view against Samoa," Hansen said.

"They're a very good rugby team. On their day they can cause an upset. We don't want to be the upset."

A strong performance will help the All Blacks build momentum into their first Test against the Lions the following week, but Samoa also have plenty to play for heading into a Test against Wales.

This has All Black lock pair Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick on the lookout for an early offensive by the powerful Samoan forwards, who were able to apply "lots of pressure" during the sides' 25-16 clash in Apia last year.

"They really tried to overload the forward area, get the big guys running, they were very direct. They were also very smart with their kicking game," Whitelock said.

"Being a tall skinny white boy, I'll make sure I get nice and low so I look after my body a little bit."

It was a sentiment Retallick backed, saying while the Samoans might not boast as much line speed as the Lions, they "certainly know how to hit".

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