All Blacks test in Samoa confirmed
All Blacks test in Samoa confirmed as sponsors offer the Manu one million dollars if they can win the Rugby World Cup.
It's been a been a big few days for Samoan rugby, with confirmation the All Blacks will play a test in Apia next year and the announcement of a major sponsorship deal.
The historic test, on July the eighth at Apia Park, will mark the first time the All Blacks have played an official test match in the Pacific Islands.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
The Samoa Rugby Union Chair, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, signed the test match agreement in Wellington and says it is a special moment for the Manu Samoa team and the country.
TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI: Our contributions to New Zealand Rugby have been well known. It is therefore fitting that Manu Samoa will be hosting the All Blacks and I take this opportunity to express my very sincere appreciation for the support and work of so many people in making this rugby match possible.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Samoa the team has wanted to play in Samoa for a long time but a match didn't fit into the calendar. He says the test will be special for their players who have Pacific Islands heritage but bristled at suggestions the All Blacks would be sending a sub-par team, with the test sandwiched between the Super Rugby semis and final.
STEVE HANSEN: It's not a B team. There's no such thing as an All Blacks B team. The All Blacks are going to play Samoa, end of story, and if we've got two teams in the [Super Rugby] finals well we will still have an All Black team going to play Samoa and it will be the best team we can pick, and they'll be expected to play like All Blacks. I will expect them to win [and] Stephen [Betham] will expect them to get beaten and that's the way sport is. If we are to play this game that's the day we can play so we've got to give a bit to get a bit and we're happy to do that.
Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham says the test is a chance to prove to the rest of the world they deserve more top level matches.
STEPHEN BETHAM: It's our only tier one test I think next year before the World Cup. It's a good chance for us to gauge ourselves where we are at and what we need to put in place. We're just happy with the commitment the New Zealand Rugby Union has shown and we're not taking it lightly, we're going to prepare the best we can.
Meanwhile the Manu Samoa players have been offered a million dollar prize if they can win next year's Rugby World Cup. The incentive is part of the SRU's new sponsorship deal with Australian company Cromwell Property and South African-based Redefine Property, which are stumping up the cash. As well as general sponsorship of Samoan rugby, the Manu team will pocket seven figures if they lift the cup, 500,000 if they make it to the final and 250,000 dollars if they reach the semis.
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