Special double-header confirmed for Eden Park

New Zealand Rugby has announced a Pasifika Challenge double-header at Eden Park on Friday, June 16 that will see the All Blacks play Samoa in a pre- Lions series hit-out, preceded by Tonga playing Wales.

The Tonga-Wales test will kick off at 5.30pm, followed by the All Blacks-Samoa Test at 8pm. The double header will be broadcast live and exclusive on SKY TV.

NZR chief strategy and operations officer Nigel Cass says the unique night of rugby is an exciting opportunity to showcase Pacific Island rugby.

“The Pasifika Challenge promises to be a great night for Pacific rugby and the Pacific community in New Zealand. Auckland is home to the largest Pacific Island population in the world, and to have Samoa and Tonga playing test matches back to back in an unprecedented double-header will be something unique so we hope the Pacific community turns up en masse, which will contribute to the special occasion.

“After the test between Tonga and Wales was moved to Auckland it made sense to combine it with the All Blacks hit-out against Samoa and turn the occasion into a Pacific double-header.

Manu Samoa head coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia says the opportunity to play the All Blacks slotted perfectly into their June schedule.

“The addition of this match has been perfectly timed for us. It gives us a great build-up for our June and July internationals.

“We know from hosting the All Blacks in 2015 that New Zealand has a special connection with Samoa and with Samoan rugby.  We welcome the opportunity to give our players some much needed test rugby, as well as a rare opportunity to play the best team in the world.

“We look forward to coming to Eden Park where hopefully our friends from all around the Pacific will help to make this feel as much of a home game for Samoa and Tonga as it is for the All Blacks.”

Tickets go on sale Monday, May 15.