PREVIEW: All Blacks v Samoa

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Lynn McConnell     15 Jun 2017     Getty Images

All Blacks v Samoa, Eden Park, 16 June, 2017, 7.35pm

The All Blacks and Samoa have met six times since their first Test at Eden Park in 1993 when New Zealand won 35-13. The contests have tended to be one-sided with the All Blacks posting a century of points at New Plymouth in the 101-14 win in 2008. However, playing at home against New Zealand for the first time in 2015, Samoa used the occasion to have one of their finest contests with the All Blacks before going down 16-25. One of the anomalies between the sides is that they have never met in a Rugby World Cup game.
Samoa are looking for a barometer of where they are at ahead of their Pacific Nations campaign to claim a Rugby World Cup berth and with only one new cap named in their side, former Crusader and Tasman centre Keiron Fonotia, they are clear in their intent. Eighteen of the players have come back from Europe for the campaign with Tim Nanai-Williams the only active Super Rugby player in the side. But there are also names well known to New Zealand players and fans: prop Census Johnston, lock Chris Vui, flanker Jack Lam, No.8 Faifili Levave, halfback Kahn Foutali'i, first five-eighths Tusi Pusi and second five-eighths Alapati Leiua. Like New Zealand they will be looking to achieve combinations quickly, but with the prize of their World Cup campaign, the Samoans won't be lacking inspiration for performance.


Shaking off cobwebs, getting rid of rust. However, it is described is what this Test is about for both teams at the start of significant campaigns. From an All Blacks point of view it is how hooker Codie Taylor settles into his role, and his lineout throwing combination with locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick and also flanker Jerome Kaino and No.8 Ardie Savea. In the loose it is about how quickly Kaino gets into game mode with Savea and Sam Cane. Behind the scrum the liaison between halfback Aaron Smith and first five-eighths Beauden Barrett will be closely monitored while the main area of interest will centre on how Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Lienert-Brown gel in the midfield. Behind them the back combination of captain and fullback Ben Smith, and wings Israel Dagg and Julian Savea will be all about getting their messages collated.

Tickets to the American Express Pasifika Challenge are still available from or 0800 111 999. Gates at Eden Park open at 4.30PM with the Tonga-Wales Test kicking off at 5.30PM and the All Blacks-Manu Samoa Test starting at 8.00PM.

New Zealand: 1.Joe Moody, 2.Codie Taylor, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Brodie Retallick, 5.Samuel Whitelock, 6.Jerome Kaino, 7.Sam Cane, 8.Ardie Savea, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Sonny Bill Williams, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Israel Dagg, 15.Ben Smith (captain).

Substitutes: 16.Nathan Harris, 17.Wyatt Crockett, 18.Charlie Faumuina, 19.Scott Barrett, 20.Vaea Fifita, 21.TJ Perenara, 22.Lima Sopoaga, 23.Jordie Barrett.

Samoa: 1.Viliamu Afatia, 2.Maatulimanu Leiataua, 3.Census Johnston, 4.Chris Vui, 5.Faatiga Lemalu, 6.Piula Faasalele, 7.Jack Lam, 8.Faifili Levave, 9.Kahn Fotuali'i, 10.Tusiati Pisi, 11.Tim Nanai Williams, 12.Alapati Leiua, 13.Keiron Fonotia, 14.Albert Nikoro, 15.Ah See Tuala.

Substitutes: 16.Seilala Lam, 17.Nephi Leatigaga, 18.Paul Alo-Emile, 19.Taiasina Tuifua, 20.Alafoti Faosiliva, 21.Auvasa Falealii, 22.D'Angelo Leiula, 23.Ken Pisi.