While there’s hope that a new Pacific Island side could be included in a Super Rugby replacement as early as 2021, it appears that players of Pacific heritage could get a chance to tackle the All Blacks as early as the coming international season.
According to 1 News, a Tana Umaga-coached Pacific XV could be the New Zealand national side’s first challenge of the year, with South Auckland’s Mount Smart being lined up to host the game.
Umaga would likely be joined in the coaches box by fellow former All Blacks Aaron Mauger and Ben Afeaki while a slew of current and former Super Rugby Aotearoa players are expected to make up the squad.
The likes of Hurricanes fetcher Du’Plessis Kirifi and Blues loose forward Akira Ioane are both reported to be lined up to play for the Pacific XV, providing they aren’t selected in the All Blacks squad.
Former NZ-based stars Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu and Nasi Manu are also all touted to feature.
The Rugby Championship, likely hosted solely in New Zealand, is tentatively scheduled to kick off on November 7 but there’s a reasonable chance that the All Blacks could square off with the Wallabies in a pair of Bledisloe matches expected to be held prior to the TRC.
New Zealand last played a Pacific Islands composite side in 2004. That team was comprised of players still eligible to represent Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, however.
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