New Zealand to play Samoa ahead of Lions series

Wales will play Tonga in a special double-header

BY Simon Maguire 11:51 Wednesday 10 May 2017, 11:51 10 May 2017

New Zealand's Jerome Kaino. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

New Zealand have arranged a test match with Samoa as they prepare for the Lions series this summer.

The All Blacks will play in a specially arranged "Pasifka Challenge" double-header at Eden Park in Auckland when Wales will also take on Tonga in June. 

It will be the hosts first match since their November tour as they look to run off any cobwebs ahead of this summer's much anticipated test series against the British & Irish Lions. 

"It’s great that we’re going to play Samoa," said New Zealand Head Coach Steve Hansen, adding. "Along with Tonga and Wales it’s going to be a wonderful evening where you’ve got Pasifika rugby on show and Welsh rugby and New Zealand rugby.

"It allows us to fill a need for ourselves as we need a game to prepare for the Lions and also give something back to Pasifika rugby."

Auckland is home to a large Pacific Islander population and Manu Samoa Head Coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia is expecting a huge turnout.

"We look forward to coming to Eden Park where hopefully our friends from all around the Pacific will help to make this feel as much of a home game for Samoa and Tonga as it is for the All Blacks."

The two teams last met in July 2015 with the All Blacks winning 25-16 in a bruising encounter in Apia. 

The "Pasifka Challenge" takes place on the June 16 with the first test between New Zealand and the Lions scheduled for 24th June. 



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