13 Jun 2014

Test good for Dunedin, whatever result

8:04 am on 13 June 2014

The All Blacks are under pressure for a better performance in the second rugby Test against England tomorrow night in Dunedin.

The New Zealanders made many mistakes but grabbed a last-minute win in Auckland last week against the younger visiting side.

Dunedin's Carisbrook House of Pain days are a distant memory, and the All Blacks no longer talk about any southern game advantage.

Inside Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Inside Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

But local hero Ben Smith, starting for the first time in his favourite full-back position, said Dunedin's covered stadium would add to the game's energy and speed.

"You score a lot more points in the stadium, and there's a few more tries scored," he said.

"It's a great place to play rugby. It's great for fans to watch a game there and it's a good chance for us to put out a good performance on Saturday."

The English team was last in the city three years ago for the Rugby World Cup, winning its three pool matches but remembered for wayward goal kicking without weather-related excuses.

Since then, other sides' poor kicking has started talk of a mysterious wind effect.

England coach Stuart Lancaster was not buying into that and said the team was preparing as normal.

"Nothing out of ordinary other than we'll go there for the captain's run," he said.

"It's an uncontrollable, really, in the sense that the conditions are going to be the conditions, and I can't believe the roof can make a difference to whether you can get the ball through the posts or not."

Sell-out game

Dunedin's stadium is a sell-out, attracting a crowd of more than 28,000 people, including about 1000 overseas visitors, most of them English.

The chief executive of stadium manager Dunedin Venues, Terry Davies, said that made the Test a massive event for the city.

"You're looking at almost 50 percent tickets sold from outside of Dunedin, with an economic benefit last year, when we ran the numbers, of about $8 million.

"So we'll be looking at those sorts of numbers again. So it's significant. When you look at the impact that has on hotels, restaurants, cabs, retail, the flow is incredible."

Community events are popping up, from nude rugby matches to a polar plunge in the freezing Southern Ocean and asking people to dress in black or Union Jack undies and singlets.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said all the hotels were fully booked, and there was a buzz around town as 15,000 visitors arrived.

Mr Christie said the stadium put the city at the forefront if international sport - despite mixed feelings from ratepayers about the stadium's heavy costs.

"Yeah, it is a new era. I think the stadium has really turned another chapter in that book and we've got a really remarkable stadium in terms of the facilities that are now available, at a level that I think is what the international teams are wanting when they come into a city."

As for the rugby, Mr Christie said there was a lot of interest in the match after last week's tight clash, and he just hoped the All Blacks could play better.

The Test kicks off at 7.35pm on Saturday.