Key, Samoan PM discuss All Blacks visit

VERNON SMALL IN SAMOA
Last updated 13:18 02/06/2014
Samoa welcome delegation
VERNON SMALL / Fairfax NZ
The welcoming committee for the NZ delegation in Samoa.
John Key and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele
VERNON SMALL / Fairfax NZ
HANGING OUT: Prime Minister John Key and his Samoan counterpart Tuilaepa Sailele hold a joint news conference in Samoa.

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As John Key visits Samoa, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele is beckoning the All Blacks to do the same.

Tuilaepa said Samoa and other Pacific nations needed more international competition to raise their standard of play.

"We come often to you cold climate and shiver as we play and would like the All Blacks to come here and enjoy the sun and play - at 12 o'clock midday."

Tuilaepa caused a brief stir in the New Zealand delegation after seeming to claim a visit from the All Blacks had been confirmed.

His comments to a joint press conference following talks with Key were hosed down by Key who essentially said the position had not changed and it was not 100 per cent confirmed.

After the press conference Key phoned Rugby Union boss Steve Tew to seek his reassurance that he had not made any stronger commitments to a test here.

Key later said comments were run in the Samoan media which said it was just a question of when the All Blacks came, and that led to Tuilaepa's statement.

The All Blacks have never played a test in Samoa. But while it was question of time, no date had been set.

"I do not think that dates been confirmed. I don't think discussions have been held with the International Rugby Board and next year's a pretty busy year with the World Cup so who knows how that would all go."

His understanding was that the Rugby Union were keen for the All Blacks to play in Samoa and would work on a date in the future.

He said there were pretty good reasons the All Blacks will play in Chicago, such as for the planned game against the United States, that included sponsorship.

But the All Blacks also had a tradition of promoting rugby and being ambassadors for New Zealand and not everything came down to the last dollar.

A trip to Samoa would be about promoting rugby.

Samoa had hoped against hope a test would be held here, but money was the major consideration for them to go to Hong Kong or Japan for a warm up match on the way to Europe. 

Key is in Samoa for Independence Day celebrations as part of a three-nation, five-day Pacific mission that includes Tonga and Niue.

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