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All Blacks confirm how they'll pick teams for the North v South trial game

The traditional fixture is set to return in August.

ALL BLACKS BOSS Ian Foster has confirmed the eligibility criteria for the North Island v South Island game that is set to take place in New Zealand in late August.

The game between two sides made up of players representing New Zealand’s two main islands is being touted as a crucial All Blacks trial this year.

The clash is highly-anticipated in New Zealand. Traditionally, there was a North v South contest every year after the fixture was first played in 1987 but the annual game was last played formally back in 1995 – although there was a one-off clash in 2012.

pjimage Richie Mo'unga started with Canterbury in the South Island, while Beauden Barrett first played provincial rugby for the North Island's Taranaki. Source: PA Images

It is being rebooted this year with the rugby calendar in New Zealand and across the world essentially ripped up by the Covid-19 crisis.

All Blacks head coach Foster has confirmed that eligibility for each team will be decided based on which province players first played for, rather than where they were born.

“We think the best legacy thing for us to do is to pick players on the first province they played for because the choice they made when they played first-class rugby for that province was probably the start of their move into the professional game. So we think that’s the best criteria,” said Foster.

As such, players will be eligible based on the first provincial team they represented in the Heartland Championship or Mitre 10 Cup.

Foster also confirmed that he won’t announce his 2020 All Blacks squad until after the North v South clash.

“It might even be a little bit old school – that it’s the day after the North v South game we have the old Sunday morning media conference and announce the [All Blacks] team,” said Foster.

It remains to be seen where the North v South clash is played but it has been pencilled in for 29 August and there is likely to be global interest in watching the fixture.

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Murray Kinsella

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