All Blacks

Rennie has confidence in All Blacks

The Lions overcame successive midweek losses to the Blues and Highlanders to control the game, force the Chiefs into errors and shut down their attack before they ran out 34-6 winners in Hamilton.

"They dominated up front. We battled to get our lineout going. Our scrum. And they punished us for it," Rennie said.

"(But) the All Blacks will play the way they play, they will back themselves and their skill set to challenge the Lions.

All Blacks not focusing on referee

Lions coach Warren Gatland said New Zealand teams were deliberately blocking and holding players back to give the first five more time to clear the ball and he's mentioned it to the referees.

However Kaino says sticking to their game plan is the key to All Black success over a Lions outfit, who hit their straps against a strong New Zealand Maori side on Saturday.

Kaino says the All Blacks will simply have to adapt to how referee Jaco Peyper is going to officiate in the up-coming test.

"We have a game that we want to play and we will play that as well as we can.

All Blacks run riot after strong start by Samoa

Barrett's try, sparked after captain Ben Smith had pounced on a dropped ball on his line, was the catalyst for the world champions to take control of the game.

RNZI reports Barrett grabbed a second try in the second half while Anton Lienert-Brown, Ardie Savea (2), Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara and Sam Cane all crossed for the All Blacks.

All Blacks not getting ahead of themselves as season kicks off

The Lions are in Rotorua where they'll face one of the strongest Maori All Black sides ever assembled tomorrow night.

Tonight though the All Blacks play Samoa in the Pasifika Challenge double header at Auckland's Eden Park right after Tonga play Wales.

The match marks the start of the All Blacks 2017 campaign and to kick it off they'll have a new captain - Highlander fullback Ben Smith is stepping into the role until the regular boss Kieran Read returns from injury.

Aside from Read's omission the All Blacks side is at full strength and there's good reason for it.

Ryan Crotty could return for first Lions test

Last year, with varying degrees of success, the All Blacks used four variations of Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala and Lienert-Brown.

Crotty and Lienert-Brown emerged on top, with Fekitoa and Moala slipping out the picture for now.

SBW-ALB doesn't just roll off the tongue nicely. Their joint attacking threats could prove fruitful, even if their starting partnership is only short-lived.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen strongly indicated on Thursday Ryan Crotty should be fit for the first test against the Lions next week, despite carrying rib damage.

Manu Samoa match against All Blacks a bonus: Coach Ieremia

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.

Fonotia named to start for Manu Samoa against All Blacks

The former Crusaders midfielder, who now plays for the Ospreys club in Wales, is the only new cap in the starting side named by head coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, while Stade Francais prop Paul Alo-Emile and Nevers halfback Auvasa Faleali'i are in line to earn their first cap off the bench.

"Obviously we want to put out an experienced team and the All Blacks is not a team you experiment with, so we are wanting to put on a performance that will make our nation and most importantly ourselves proud," Namulauulu said.

All Blacks confident over Read

Read has not played since breaking a thumb in April, having spent much of 2017 recuperating from wrist surgery.

The skipper is unlikely to play any part in the All Blacks' practice match against Samoa on Friday as plans for the first Test in a fortnight at Eden Park draw into sharp focus.

But having seen Read's predecessor Richie McCaw have huge impacts on previous series with similarly low-key preparation, Hansen has no concerns.

"Our last skipper used to be able to do it, and this one's got similar mental fortitude and strength of character," Hansen said.

Crotty to miss Crusaders game against Lions

The 28-year-old Crotty, who was expected to be named in Steve Hansen's All Blacks squad for the three-test series on Thursday, suffered rib cartilage damage in the Crusaders' 25-22 win over the Highlanders on Saturday.

Initial assessments suggested he could be out for at least two weeks but the Crusaders' assistant coach Jason Ryan said they needed to check a scan before they could determine the extent of the injury.

"It will be a case-by-case thing," Ryan said. "Cartilages can be pretty niggly, especially when you are sneezing or coughing.

Former Crusaders in Manu Samoa squad to face All Blacks

Kieron Fonotia who held up the Crusaders midfield until he left to play for Welsh club Osprey last year is one of eight new players called up by Head Coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia. While former first, and second five eighth Aaron Mauger has joined the squad as an Assistant Coach.

“I am very humbled and excited about this opportunity,” Mauger said in a press statement.

“Manu Samoa Rugby has always had a strong place in my heart due to family bloodlines and I have always been a close follower and proud supporter of the team over the years.”