Wellington, NEW ZEALAND – August 22, 2019: 1pm (TVNZ): All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is planning to unleash his strongest possible side against Tonga in Hamilton on September 7, his side’s final Test in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Having finished a shortened Rugby Championship, and retaining the Bledisloe Cup against Australia, the All Blacks now have over two weeks without a match, some players returning to the Mitre 10 Cup.
With Hansen to name his final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup next Wednesday, next month’s clash with Tonga will see the All Blacks given a chance to gel at Test level.
Speaking to Stuff, Hansen said that he is intending to utilise his full strength side on the Pacific nation, serving as match practice heading into their World Cup opener two weeks later.
“We’d like probably most of the frontliners to get some form of game-time in the Tonga game, otherwise it’s too big a break before we play South Africa,” Hansen said.
The All Blacks will then head to the World Cup, opening their campaign against South Africa in Yokohama on September 21.