Manu Samoa match against All Blacks a bonus: Coach Ieremia

For Manu Samoa, today’s match is as much a warm up for them as it is the All Blacks.

Following on from tonight's game and another against Wales next week, Samoa enter the Pacific Nations Cup which also doubles as the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers where they'll face fierce rivals Fiji and Tonga.

Manu Samoa coach Alama Ieremia said getting to play the All Blacks as a precursor is like a Christmas wish coming early.

"To play in a double header, it just went from bonus to bonus to bonus. I'm really excited about that, the team's really excited about that.

"It's important that we're quite real about where we are, we've come together very quickly and we're preparing against the best team in the world. Doesn't matter what team they put out, the All Blacks are the All Blacks, there's no weak All Blacks team so we're pretty excited about the challenge.," Ieremia said.

For two families, tonight's match will mark a special occasion, the All Blacks will field three Barrett brothers who will play together for the first time but a set of cousins will also square off against each other.

All Black midfielder Sonny Bill Williams will go up against his cousin - Chiefs outside back Tim Nanai-Williams.

They played against each other in Apia two years ago and Nanai-Williams says he is keen to renew the family connections.

"We all know and understand what he brings and we're going to do our best to stop him. I'll be definitely putting my knee to his head a little bit in the ruck (to slow him down). It's going to be awesome going up against him."

Before the All Blacks-Samoa game, Tonga will play Wales in Auckland in the first match of the double header - kickoff in that game is at 5.30 tonight.


Photo Tim Nanai-Williams