All Blacks to play training games in Lower Hutt

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

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The All Blacks are coming to the Hutt Recreation Ground.

And it will cost Wellington punters just $10 for the privilege of getting up close and personal with the world champions.

In a coup for the Hutt Valley, the All Blacks will play two training matches against the Wellington Lions and a Canterbury XV in Lower Hutt on August 9.

Temporary seating will allow for 6000 fans to attend, but with two kids gaining free admission on each adults ticket there will be slim pickings when Ticketek sales open at 9am this morning.

This is the All Blacks at a bargain basement price considering fans will pay between $35 and $135 to watch them play Australia at Westpac Stadium a fortnight later.

That match will arguably play second fiddle to those lucky enough to see Steve Hansen's men up close and personal at a ground with a 700-seat stand usually filled once a year for Wellington's Jubilee Cup club final.

It's not hard to imagine the throng that will line Myrtle Street, Woburn Road, Bellevue Road and Huia Street to peak through the fence for a freebie as Dan Carter and Richie McCaw grace the local pitch.

Wellington and Canterbury will kick things off with a 40 minute hit out at 4pm before Hansen puts his squad through their paces against the two provinces.

It will be Hansen's final dress rehearsal for the Rugby Championship and Wellington rugby fans have rarely had things so good.

The All Blacks will base themselves in the Capital before flying out to Sydney on the Thursday before the opening Bledisloe Cup match against Australia on August 17.

The training matches follows the same format used last year when the All Blacks played Counties-Manukau and Auckland in Pukekohe.

Excitement is already building in Wellington rugby circles with a host of young players set to get a chance to impress the national coach.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for our home-grown players, many straight from our club rugby competition, to see what it takes to reach the next level," Wellington coach Chris Boyd said.

"We are very excited about hosting this unique match. It will be six days before we begin the ITM Cup so provides a real test of our systems and combinations against the best in the world."

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- The Dominion Post

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