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All Blacks coach Foster urges players to embrace new old concept

All Blacks sides are now typically selected on Super Rugby form and the North-South match has not been played since 2012.

FILE: New Zealand head coach Ian Foster. Picture: @AllBlacks/Twitter

WELLINGTON - All Blacks coach Ian Foster has said next month’s rebooted North-South match should be embraced by the top echelon of New Zealand’s rugby players and seen as an opportunity to potentially play a once-in-a-career game.

The fixture between the composite sides representing teams from each of New Zealand’s two main islands was held annually for much of the 20th Century and widely considered a defacto All Blacks trial.

All Blacks sides are now typically selected on Super Rugby form and the North-South match has not been played since 2012.

“A lot of our players, our top All Blacks, have talked about the North-South match for years, but never had the chance to play in it,” Foster said of the 29 August clash at Auckland’s Eden Park.

“Now they have that chance and they have to reinvent their own meaning for this game.”

The sides will be coached by Foster’s assistants with John Plumtree and Scott McLeod in charge of the North team, while Greg Feek and Brad Mooar will lead the South.

Foster also emphasised the game would harken back to the days when the match was seen as an All Blacks trial, with hopes still strong of test matches being played later this year.

“There are no gimmes here,” he said of the match.

“In a year where there is a lot of uncertainty around the international game ... this is obviously a chance to do something different on the New Zealand stage.”

Foster and selector Grant Fox would name 28 players to each squad in the week following the final Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Canterbury Crusaders and Auckland Blues on 16 August

“Super Rugby Aotearoa has been outstanding,” Foster added.

“To have this special game at the end of it keeps the players motivated and excited.”

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