Making the All Blacks is paramount for players preparing to represent their respective islands this weekend says North hooker Ash Dixon.
Dixon has played 16 games for the Maori All Blacks but is yet to make test squad. The Highlanders hooker has warned against expecting a Barbarians-style friendly clash.
“Everyone knows what’s on the line here. I guess there are bragging rights and what-not but the boys know there’s an All Black jersey on the line here. It’s pretty much been said the All Black team gets named the next day. So our boys are definitely up for this and I know they want to play the best footy they can,” Dixon told Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB.
The last time the North and South met in 2012, four players, including current North hooker Dane Coles, were cited after a fracas in the first half.
Dixon said there was an unknown for some players since it’s been eight years between North v South clashes but he expects no lack of motivation.
“Arriving today the boys are pretty excited about the unknown because the last North v South match was 2012 and a lot of the boys didn’t play in that and don’t really know what to expect – but they understand the uniqueness of this. Everyone is very excited just to play some footy and mingle with each other. All the boys are up for this one.”
One issue that might affect the players is the lack of crowd. The North Island v South Island fixture has gone from an expected sell out at Eden Park to zero fans allowed at Sky Stadium.
Dixon played in the final game of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season at an empty Forsyth Barr Stadium. He said the change from packed stadiums to no fans was hard to adjust to.
“It was bizarre. I can’t really explain the feeling. At times it just felt like a bit of a training run. I just wasn’t used to it. It needed a bit more sound or something going on in the stadium just to get you in tune. I guess because I’ve played it before I know what to expect now. It’s something we’ll probably talk about as a group and just reassure the boys that this is going to happen. It shouldn’t affect us and the way went want to prepare and go about the game,” he told the DRS.
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