8 Sep 2011

All Blacks ready to tackle Tonga

10:39 pm on 8 September 2011

The All Blacks have completed preparations for the Rugby World Cup opener against Tonga with the traditional captain's run.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will play his 99th test at Auckland's Eden Park on Friday and told a large news conference the team has had a good week.

McCaw said on Thursday players have been working on putting right the things they got wrong in their Tri-Nations final loss to Australia in August.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith says they have also revisited some of Tonga's performances at the last World Cup, where side lost their pool match with eventual winners South Africa by only five points.

Smith says the Tongans were also very competitive against beaten finalists England, so there is no complacency among the All Blacks.

Tonga get head-start over haka

Tonga have got the nod to start their traditional pre-match war dance ahead of New Zealand's haka on Friday.

Tournament director Kit McConnell says the team have the right to start their sipi tau ahead of the hosts' haka as they are designated Team A for the match.

The All Blacks then have the option of trying to out-shout their rivals, but Tonga captain Finau Maka says he hopes the All Blacks will wait until his team had finished as a mark of respect.

At least two World Cup games will feature a clash of hakas - tribal routines where players chant, stamp their feet and pull faces to intimidate the opposition - with Fiji also due to play Samoa in Auckland on 25 September.