The All Blacks arrived in Pukekohe on Friday night to a welcoming and excited crowd.
It was an entertaining and crowd-thrilling game of three halves as the Counties Manukau Steelers hosted the Taranaki Bulls and the All Blacks at ECOLight Stadium.
The Counties Steelers kicked off the game against the Taranaki Bulls, triumphing 28-7, before the Bulls faced off against the All Blacks who were donned in orange.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he wanted his team to get a good run before the Bledisloe Cup match in Australia on Saturday 19 August.
“Some of the players haven’t played in a while and it’s always difficult to get back into international rugby without a game under your belt. We’re really thankful that we were able to play Taranaki and the Counties guys,” he said.
The All Blacks won both their games, 57-7 against Taranaki and 49-0 against Counties Manukau.
It was a great practice round for the national team, with lots of physicality.
“The physicality was good, that’s why we wanted to play two teams and not just the one,” Hansen said. “Both teams came out and were physical and we were physical ourselves, so that was good.”
The coach of the All Blacks said the game of three halves was a great opportunity for the provincial players to have a game against the All Blacks and go through what a game is like.
For his team, Hansen said while they were laid back in their preparations, “It was about getting the players out there, giving them game time, going through the systems and getting back into the All Black way.”
The All Blacks had a short 20 minute training session at Wesley College before the game.
“Our performance on the night was never going to be perfect. There was some nice rugby in there, good skills and execution which we’ve been working on, and they gelled together reasonably well.”