All Blacks to mix and match against Japan
World champions to warm up for European tour with match in Tokyo this weekend
World champions New Zealand will test some new combinations in Saturday’s match against Japan in Tokyo before they embark on their tour of Europe for the November internationals.
The All Blacks, unbeaten in 10 tests this year, will play the 2011 World Cup finalists France on November 9th followed by matches against England before rounding off the tour against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Nine players are flying directly to Paris to prepare for the France match but fans at the 25,000-seat Prince Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo will still have the opportunity to see two of New Zealand’s greatest ever players in action.
Both players have been troubled by injuries this year as they set their sights on the 2015 World Cup in England.
Saturday’s match will be the first between the two sides outside the World Cup after the All Blacks defeated Japan 83-7 two years ago and 145-17 in 1995.
Japan recorded a famous 23-8 win over Wales this year and assistant All Blacks coach Ian Foster said his side expected the home side to come out fighting.
“We respect what they do and will have to do well to beat them,” he said after the All Blacks’ first training session.
“We have got a lot of new combinations so the focus today was on cementing running lines and improving the options.”
“I am learning as I go and have got a wee bit to pick up,” Smith said.
“The win over Wales showed Japan are a pretty good team. We will have to be on our game this weekend and will have to get our preparation right to play well.”