All Blacks ready for Tongan passion

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Taylor said he had never played Tonga but he had seen them play. The All Blacks had talked about their size and physicality and were expecting a physical game and it was one they were looking forward to.

 

"It's not something that happens a lot but it is a good opportunity for the Pacific nations as well to get games like this and for us to test ourselves against teams that we are not really familiar with," he said.

 

That made it valuable as a reminder of how the All Blacks can have to expect when playing sides they are not used to playing at the World Cup.

 

"You look at a World Cup, just the way that your pools are played. There's teams in our pool that we barely even play so it gives us that experience to go up against teams that we are not so much used to and build on our preparation for things like that, he said.

 

The difference was on this occasion that the Tongans were likely to feel right at home.

 

"They've got an awesome support network here and a lot of the fans are actually family members of the players. It's special for them, you can't take away from the opportunity for them to come and support the nation that they've come from.

 

"We'll just lap that up and I think it'll be quite a buzz for us as well. We definitely won't steer clear of what we want to do on the park but it will definitely be exciting," he said.

 

Taylor was also expecting the All Blacks pack would get a good scrum contest in the game.

 

"They're a good scrum, they've got a great scrum coach. We've looked at them the same you do for every team. You've got to turn up and prepare accordingly because they've got some people who have played some pretty high level footy whether it's in France or even Super Rugby.

 

"If we don't step up to the plate we wouldn't be doing ourselves justice, nor them."

 

Taylor said the change to playing an afternoon game would require some adjustments to their usual pre-game preparation but it was also handy because of the different times they would be playing during the World Cup.

 

He was also pleased that he would be able to take part in Crusaders' teammate Ryan Crotty's final Test on New Zealand soil.

 

"It's good to see that all the work he's put in over the last few years, especially since 2015, he gets that opportunity to represent his country in a World Cup," he said.

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