All Blacks assistant coach and local Hamiltonian Ian Foster knows all too well how much the rare opportunity of a test match in the city means to the fans.

A sell-out crowd is expected at FMG Stadium on Saturday as test match fever hits Hamilton, but it's not all about the All Blacks. Tonga are also expected to have strong support, and the All Blacks have named a solid match-day 23 for what will be their final hit out prior to the Rugby World Cup.

For Foster, this week has also been a return home and a rare opportunity to sleep in his own bed during All Black coaching duties.

"I'm pretty excited, nothing beats playing on your home patch and it's a great ground here in Hamilton so hopefully we can do that justice on Saturday", Foster said.


Foster says that the All Blacks ensure players who live in Hamilton don't stay in team hotels during the week, but the days are still long with team meetings going until around 9:00pm on some nights.

"Earlier in the week we let those who are in their home base actually stay in their homes, we spend so much time away from so it's nice to maximize that family time and I am personally sleeping in my own bed this week as well".

The All Blacks haven't played in Hamilton since 2016, and head coach Steve Hansen also threw his support behind the team being back in the city, admitting he's always enjoyed playing in Hamilton since getting involved with the All Blacks back in 2004.

"It's always good to play a test match here, the support is always awesome and the players are enjoying the interaction with the fans because they understand that they are a big part of who we are", Hansen said.

Kick off as at 2.35pm on Saturday afternoon and there is also a curtain raiser.

The New Zealand Barbarian Legends will play the Pacific Legends in a midday match organised to raise awareness of the diabetes and obesity epidemic affecting many New Zealand communities, especially the Pacific Island and Māori communities.