Why Ian Foster doesn't want to see All Blacks vs Maori All Blacks
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has revealed he doesn’t want to see his side take on the Maori All Blacks at any point in the future.
The All Blacks and Maori All Blacks will achieve the rare feat of playing at the same ground on the same day when the latter side play Manu Samoa and the former team hosts Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday.
The last time the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks played at the same venue on the same day came back in 1973, when the two sides played each other at Rotorua International Stadium.
The All Blacks prevailed in an 18-8 victory on that occasion, which was just fifth time in history the two teams have squared off against one another.
Prior to that, the All Blacks emerged victorious in all four of their other meetings, which took place in 1922, 1929, 1952 and 1958.
48 years after their most recent clash, Foster was asked on Thursday whether he would like to see the two teams go head-to-head for a sixth time at some point in the future.
However, the All Blacks boss shot down such a proposal as he said the two teams represent New Zealand and shouldn’t be pitted against each other in the international arena.
“Not a big fan of it,” he said. “I think we both represent our country with pride and from a slightly different angle, and that’s a great quality of both teams. So, do I see them pitted against each other? I don’t really think that’s the right thing.”
With the Maori All Blacks set to kick-off their clash against Manu Samoa at the earlier time of 4:30pm, Foster implored his side, which features four debutants, to not get distracted by the festivities of the occasion.
“I think the Maori All Blacks, it’s going to be cool playing on the same ground, particularly having two Pasifika nations on the same ground as well.
“It’s going to be a pretty special time. A big part of our challenge is going to be to make sure we don’t get hooked up to the gala festival of having a curtain-raiser with a lot of noise and think it’s a festival.
“It’s job on. It’s a great occasion. We’re excited by the occasion, but we know that our job is to go and perform at an All Black level and we’ve just got to make sure we’re really consistent with our preparation.
“One of the hardest things to do when you get a new group, new players in there, is just to learn and experience what it is to prepare for a test match, and this Saturday’s going to be pretty unique in terms of the prep.
“We’re going to walk into a home ground, we’re already going to see a black jersey on the field, there’s going to be a lot of noise around that and there’ll be a lot of smiles around that and people will be celebrating that sort of thing, but we’ve got a job to do.”
Kick-off for the clash between the All Blacks and Tonga is scheduled for 7:05pm.
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