Report: All Blacks set to face Pacific Island sides after Italy withdraw from July test schedule
The Azzurri were scheduled to face the All Blacks across two test matches in the July test window but are believed to have pulled out of those plans due to concerns regarding COVID-19 and global travel restrictions.
While an official announcement is yet to be made that the Italians won’t travel to New Zealand as planned, a report from Stuff indicates that New Zealand Rugby [NZR] are in talks to organise an alternative schedule for the July test window.
As part of the original playing schedule, the All Blacks were expected to play Fiji in a one-off test, but, according to Stuff, the Kiwis may now face the Flying Fijians in back-to-back matches.
Additionally, it is being reported that NZR are eyeing up a solitary test against Samoa, which would give the All Blacks an all-Pasifika cast of opponents for the upcoming test window.
Playing Fiji and Samoa across three tests would be timely given the recent confirmation of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua as the two expansion sides set to enter the new Super Rugby competition next year.
The last time the All Blacks played Fiji came in 2011, when they defeated the Pacific Islanders 60-14 in the final test at Carisbrook in Dunedin.
The report comes three weeks after the New Zealand Herald reported that a two-match test series against Fiji and a one-off North vs South clash was being considered as a back-up playing schedule by NZR if Italy pulled the pin on their trip to New Zealand.
Stuff reports that World Rugby will release its July test schedule, to be headlined by the Lions’ tour of South Africa, in the coming weeks.
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