All Blacks Keven Mealamu is of Samoan heritage. Photo: Skysports
The All Blacks will play their first ever Test in the Pacific Islands next year against Samoa as part of their build-up to the World Cup, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said on Tuesday.
The long-awaited clash will take place in Apia on July 8, 2015.
Samoa plays against Tonga in a PNC match last month in Apia. Photo: Moller Images
The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao, has confirmed that the All Blacks will face Samoa in Apia on July 8, 2015.
The Samoan leader revealed the news on his weekly radio programme that a letter confirming the fixture had been received from the NZRU.
The fixture, to be played on a Wednesday, will be the first between the two countries ever to be played in Samoa.
Tuilaepa added that renovations would be carried out on Apia Park ahead of next year’s fixture, with help from overseas.
Given the timing of the fixture, it’s likely to be used as a warm-up match before the Rugby Championship begins, in a busy year before the Rugby World Cup in England.
The All Blacks match against Samoa in Apia will be a dream come true for most Samoans. Photo: NZ Herald
Rugby great Bryan Williams has lauded the long overdue decision to take the All Blacks to Samoa for an historic test in Apia which now seems likely to happen in July next year.
As reported by the Sunday Star-Times in May, an historic first All Blacks test in the islands had become an imminent reality after the governments of both countries had met formally on the issue. It’s understood political pressure from John Key’s office, on the back of a high-profile campaign by current affairs show Campbell Live, was the final impetus New Zealand Rugby needed.
All Blacks play Samoa in 2008. Photo: Sky Sports
New Zealand will play a Test match in Samoa for the first time next year in preparation for the Rugby World Cup, according to reports.
The NZ Herald have revealed that an agreement is in place to stage the fixture probably in late July next year.
The NZRU has come under huge pressure to play a Test for the first time in the Pacific Islands, after recent matches in Hong Kong and the upcoming clash against the USA in Chicago this November.