All Blacks train at the Mount (+photos)

By Peter White

The All Blacks 38-man training squad is in town for a three day camp based at Mount Maunganui, which started yesterday. They will be back next Sunday for another three day camp in preparation for the anticipated showdown with France in three test matches in June.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is pleased to bring the camps to Mount Maunganui.

"The facilities are outstanding and that's why we came here," he said.

"Again it is a different venue, somewhere we don't normally go, so it's a different environment to mentally freshen people up and help with getting them excited."

Hansen says the camps, which are not open to the public, were agreed to by all four New Zealand Super rugby coaches.

"You have to get one thing clear. This is a joint All Blacks and Super Rugby decision. In fact the Super coaches made the decision to have the camps. They get three months preparation time and all we are asking for is some preparation time.

"The camps will give us the opportunity to prepare a foundation on which we can grow our game throughout the Steinlager Series. As did last year, it will also give us a small window of opportunity to introduce some young players into the ways of the All Blacks and allow both these players and All Blacks management to get to know each other a little better."

Hansen said while the bulk of the Steinlager Series squad would come from the 38 players going to the camps, it didn't necessarily mean those players not attending were out of the picture. He said players' form would be continually monitored up until the announcement of the All Blacks squad and selection changes made, if required.

The squad for the Steinlager Series will be named on Sunday 2 June. The All Blacks play France in three tests at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday 9 June, AMI Stadium Addington, Christchurch on Saturday 15 June and Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth on Saturday 22 June.

Players in the All Blacks training group from the Chiefs and Hurricanes had a gym session yesterday, with the Blues and Crusaders resting up after their torrid battle on Saturday night.

Photographer Andrew Warner captured the action.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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