Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Samoa's PM takes All Blacks claim as a promise

Prime Minister John Key and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa enjoy the Independence Day celebrations in Apia.
Prime Minister John Key and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa enjoy the Independence Day celebrations in Apia.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa has taken NZRU chief Steve Tew's claim the All Blacks will one day visit Samoa as a promise, but Prime Minister John Key has warned he shouldn't get too excited about it happening any time soon.

Mr Tuilaepa, who is also the chair of the Samoa RFU, said he hoped it would be in the lead up to the World Cup, as one of the problems countries such as Samoa had was getting experience against top level competition. He indicated he was also keen for the All Blacks to get a taste of playing outside their comfort zone.

"We come often to your very cold climate and shiver while we play. We would like the All Blacks to come here and enjoy the sun while they play. At 12 o'clock, midday."

Mr Tuilaepa made the comments after meeting with Mr Key in Apia today.

Mr Key said later the Samoan Prime Minister appeared to have based that belief on local media reports about an interview Mr Tew did with Campbell Live, saying while the All Blacks would eventually get to Samoa timing was an issue.

Mr Tuilaepa also criticised the NZRU for following the money in deciding where to play games with smaller rugby nations, pointing out they had played in places such as Japan and Hong Kong on the way to Europe.

"Money has been the major consideration. We are trying to encourage them also to come up here. It's a shorter route to Europe by Samoa."

Mr Key later denied that the NZRU was motivated solely by money, saying they also played in those places to promote the game. He noted that the "Baby All Blacks" were playing Samoa's under 21 team in a game in New Zealand today.

He was certain the All Blacks would make it to Samoa one day, but the timing was restricted by other tournaments and the IRB would also have to approve it.

- NZ Herald

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