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Extra Test for All Blacks

New Zealand will play an extra Test as a warm-up to the shortened Tri Nations tournament in July.

The match has been tentatively scheduled for Friday July 22, eight days before the All Blacks' first Tri Nations game against South Africa in Wellington.

An opponent for New Zealand has yet to be named but it definitely will not be South Africa or Australia as they face each other in Sydney in the Tri Nations opener the following night.

With no incoming tours by northern-hemisphere sides because of the World Cup in New Zealand later in the year, All Blacks coach Graham Henry said they had been keen to arrange a fixture to bridge the gap between the end of the Super 15 and the start of the international programme, which will see New Zealand play the Springboks and Wallabies home and away in the lead-up to the World Cup.

The Super 15 conference matches end in the middle of June. The finals series runs from June 24 to the final on July 9.

The extra Test match, which will be played somewhere in New Zealand, will also double as a fundraising effort for those affected by the earthquake in Christchurch.

"We will be able to support Christchurch people and the All Blacks want to do that. I think that's very important," said Henry.

"And we need a game. There is going to be a big break between the end of the Super 15 and the start of the Tri Nations and some players will have a longer break than others depending on when they finish their Super 15 campaign.

"It's an opportunity for us to get together also and do a bit of work."


From Belfast Telegraph