It's not every day a child gets to chuck a ball around with an All Black at school.

But that's exactly what a number of Tauranga children got a chance to do yesterday morning as a handful of the nation's team players made the trip to the city.

The sun was shining and sausages were sizzling as thousands flocked to the Mount Maunganui College field to get a glimpse of the boys in black.

 Sam Cane with ripper rugby teams from Mount Maunganui and Arataki. Photo / Andrew Warner
Sam Cane with ripper rugby teams from Mount Maunganui and Arataki. Photo / Andrew Warner

Treasured local player Sam Cane, along with Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber and Anton Leinert-Brown came down to have a throw-around the city's youngest athletes and put on a public signing for keen fans.

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The visit was part of the annual All Blacks to the Nation visits around New Zealand today.

From Whangarei to Queenstown, various players headed to local schools to share some drills and skills, along with sought-after photos and autographs.

All Blacks visit to Mount Maunganui College. Brad Webber with L.A.B albums. Photo / Andrew Warner
All Blacks visit to Mount Maunganui College. Brad Webber with L.A.B albums. Photo / Andrew Warner

After a warm welcome from community leaders at 11am, the boys took to the field to share their gems of wisdom.

Mount College was only "just down the road" from where All Black Brad Weber's parents lived so he was familiar with the area.

He said through all his time with the Chiefs, he had never seen such a massive community turn out just to see him.

All Black Sam Cane poses for a selfie with Mount Maunganui Intermediate fan Joshua Innes, 11 . Photo / Andrew Warner
All Black Sam Cane poses for a selfie with Mount Maunganui Intermediate fan Joshua Innes, 11 . Photo / Andrew Warner

"It really shows just how huge the All Blacks are to a community like the Mount."

All Black Atu Moli said it was "awesome" to see all the kids and families come out and rally around the boys.

All Blacks Luke Jacobson (left), Sam Cane, Brad Weber and Anton Lienert-Brown. Photo / Andrew Warner
All Blacks Luke Jacobson (left), Sam Cane, Brad Weber and Anton Lienert-Brown. Photo / Andrew Warner

"They say we inspire them, but they actually inspire us.

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"It's great to get around them and have a bit of fun, get some smiles on people's faces."

Rosina Dawson's 4-year-old daughter Soraya was playing a game of rippa rugby alongside Sam Cane on the day.

All Black squad members sign autographs for fans at Mount Maunganui College this morning.

Dawson said her little girl had been "so excited" and it was cool to give them an opportunity like this as such a young age.

She said her daughter's confidence on the field had already perked up after just a few minutes of having them there.

The public signing saw thousands of excited fans requesting selfies, video messages and even limbs being signed.

Mayor Greg Brownless ready to give the players a run for their money. Photo / Andrew Warner
Mayor Greg Brownless ready to give the players a run for their money. Photo / Andrew Warner

Mount Maunganui College principal Alastair Sinton said he still remembered vividly when he got to meet the All Blacks as a child at school more than three decades ago.

He said the visit would be something the kids would never forget.

"It doesn't get any bigger than this."

STUDENT VIEW:

What was it like meeting some All Blacks and who is your favourite player?

It was such an exciting opportunity for the school and it would have to be Sam Cane.
Sam Taylor, 17.

Sam Taylor, 17.
Sam Taylor, 17.

It was cool and showed how high our athletes are achieving in the Bay, Sam Cane for sure. Louis Donovan, 18

Louis Donovan, 18.
Louis Donovan, 18.

So awesome to see them here and it's tricky - but would have to go with Sam Cane.
Rose Tustin, 14

Rose Tustin, 14.
Rose Tustin, 14.

It was pretty cool and Sam Cane because he is a local guy!
Isabella Arnold, 14

Isabella Arnold, 14.
Isabella Arnold, 14.