All Blacks head to the USA
November 11, 2013
The New Zealand Maori's have been in the USA this month ... next year it is likely to be the full All Blacks side © Getty Images
The New Zealand board is in the process of negotiating to play a lucrative match in the USA next November with a game in or near New York the preferred option.
The All Blacks played a Test in Japan on the way to their European tour and it is likely that in 2014 they would play the equivalent match in the USA. The team is sponsored by US-based insurance giants AIG.
"Japan was very successful, we were very happy with that, and we will be looking for a similar game in North America this time next year," New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew told reporters in Paris. "We're advanced but there's still a bit to go. The hardest thing actually is who we play. We've got to sort that out first and foremost."
The game will fall outside the IRB's autumn window and so there is no obligation on clubs to release any players for the game. That causes difficulties with the opposition as it would be in nobody's interests for the All Blacks to face a weak opposition.
South Africa do not play matches outside the window, and while Australia would be available they are not believed to be being considered as the fixture would follow soon after three Bledisloe Cup games.
"It's likely to be against some sort of invitational side," Tew said. "We'll do our very best, but there will be a little bit of a compromise. No doubt some people will see what we're trying to achieve and accept it and others will be critical."
At least they are more sure where they want to play. "Our first preference is the East Coast and to play somewhere close to New York, but we've got to find the appropriate stadium. It's got to be available that weekend, and it's got to be big enough."
Tew sidestepped suggestions the game was being played because it would turn a large profit. "It's driven by the fact [coach] Steve [Hanson] would like another game, and it would be very helpful for us to play in the American market. AIG are based there, though we're not committed contractually to do so."
Hansen was enthusiastic. "The States is not somewhere we've been a lot, so it's an exciting place to go," he said. "What approach we take to that game, we'll have to see where we're sitting. It's an opportunity to really have a look at what happens at World Cup time, so do we just take 31 and deal with it, or if we're not quite satisfied where we are with the mix, do we take some younger guys again?
"By the time we have to pick that squad it's about 12 months away and we'll have answers to those questions."
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