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Low-profile All Blacks slip into Chicago

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/10/2016 Angelo Risso
File Image © Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images File Image

The rugby world champions have blown into the Windy City, yet the Chicago sporting public have made barely a peep.

The All Blacks touched down in Chicago on Friday evening into a maelstrom of baseball hysteria, as the Chicago Cubs play for their first World Series title in 116 years.

The Cubs are two games into a seven-game finals series with the Cleveland Indians and will play three matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the local Wrigley Field.

Yet the baseball outfit are not the only side to turn heads, with the NBA's Chicago Bulls playing Indiana Pacers on Saturday and NFL's Chicago Bears tussling with Minnesota Vikings on Monday.

The local sporting feast leaves the All Blacks in the rare position of being at the bottom of the food chain, if only for a few days.

Yet for prop Charlie Faumuina, who visited with the All Blacks in their first ever game on US soil in 2014, the situation has its perks.

The 29-year-old will join his teammates at this weekend's NBA match and says it's nice to keep a low profile on occasion.

"The last time we came, no-one really made a fuss about us until Friday or Saturday, so it was pretty cool to walk around the city without much hassle," Faumuina said.

"Other than that, we were just a bunch of tourists walking the streets."

The 42-cap Blues tighthead is expected to play a major part in his side's November tour of USA and Europe, as All Blacks coaches look to keep their squad fresh.

Also in the frame for a protagonist's role are locks Luke Romano and Patrick Tuipulotu, expected to fill in for Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick against Ireland next week.

Whitelock has been ruled out for at least three weeks with an ankle sprain, while the 25-year-old Retallick failed a concussion test and will sit out the USA leg.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said the loss of New Zealand's two best locks opened the door for others to shine.

"There's a couple guys who have been with us a long time, with Patrick and Luke, and with Scott (Barrett) and Vaea (Fifita) coming in, there's a nice mixture of enthusiasm and youth," Foster said.

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