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All Blacks line up Samoa for pre-Lions warm-up

‘In 2005, we played Fiji and that set us up very well,’ says NZRU chief Steve Tew.

Kieran Read in action when the ABs visited Samoa in 2015.
Kieran Read in action when the ABs visited Samoa in 2015.
Image: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

THE ALL BLACKS have pencilled in a Test against Samoa to warm up for the Lions series in June, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has revealed.

The world champions want a hit-out before the first Test against the Lions on June 24 in Auckland and were in talks with the Pacific islanders. He said the All Blacks benefited from a similar warm-up against Fiji the last time the Lions toured in 2005, when they won the series 3-0.

“In 2005, we played Fiji and that set us up very well for a very good first-off Test match in Christchurch,” Tew told SkySports last night.

“So we’re looking at that option, Samoa’s definitely one of those things that we’re working our way through at the moment.”

Tew also rejected criticism of the Lions’ gruelling tour schedule, which sees them face all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams and the Maori All Blacks, as well as playing three Tests.

Paul O'Connell Paul O'Connell takes a breath during the first Test in '05. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

He said the tourists had asked for a challenge after their 2-1 series win in Australia in 2013.

“The Lions said they wanted a tougher itinerary than they got in Australia,” he said.

They wanted to play the five Super Rugby sides and they deliberately chose to play the Maori All Blacks the week before the first Test.

“So they’ve actually got what they wanted.”

Tew joked that doubts about taking on the Super Rugby sides may have emerged after the Waikato Chiefs thrashed the touring Wales side 40-7 last year. However, he believed the Lions would be a different story.

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“They’re going to come out here with a lot of depth and a lot of talent,” he said.

“If they don’t get hit with injuries in critical positions we’re in for a hell of a series.”

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