Final chance to wish All Blacks good luck

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

The All Blacks' journey to the World Cup starts tonight.

An autograph signing at Westfield Manukau may be the last chance for rugby fans not heading to France to wish the men in black well for the tournament.

Richie McCaw's boys will be at the shopping centre about 6pm for an hour before heading to Auckland International Airport.

Check-in is at 8.30pm and at 10pm a small number of media are invited to follow the All Blacks to the departure gate lounge and watch them board their flight to London, which departs at 11.30pm.

The team has been encouraged to wear compression tights, use humidifiers, drink plenty of fluids and take sleeping tablets to get through the marathon flight.

When they reach Heathrow via Hong Kong, they will make a 45-minute bus ride to Luton for their charter flight to Corsica to wind down for a few days after the long flight.

Then on September 2 it's a 30-minute flight to Marseille, where they will base themselves for the first fortnight - playing the first of their pool games against Italy - before shifting to another headquarters in the south of France at Aix-en-Provence.

But the squad of 30 will have plenty of support. As well as three coaches, selector and manager several WAGS (wives and girlfriends) are expected to tour with the group while others will travel later.

About 60 New Zealand journalists from newspapers, radio and television are expected in Europe to cover the All Blacks' progress.

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