New Zealand have welcomed South African moves to change their rules to allow the New Zealand Maori side to play there.

The original proposed match in June in Soweto was blocked by racism laws. A government ruling prevents the Springboks from playing racially selected teams.

But the president's council of the South African Rugby Union (Saru) instructed its staff on Thursday to try and organise a match between a South African 15 and the Maori as a warmup for the Springboks' series against the British and Irish Lions.

The council accepted a recommendation from the management committee that Saru can accept matches against any team sanctioned by the national governing body of that team.

Saru acting managing director Andy Marinos was asked to find a way to fund the cost of hosting the Maori for a match without a date or venue yet.

Saru and the New Zealand Rugby Union had been working together on the original proposal until they stumbled on the racial law last month.

The NZRU even had the support of the country's race relations commissioner Joris de Bres.

"It's great news from South Africa," NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorenson said.

"As we have said for some time, we have been working really hard with the South Africans to make this match a reality and while it's not yet a done deal, the fact that their president's council has given it the green light is a real positive.

"We need to now work with the South African management on logistical and operational issues to see if the match will definitely go ahead."

In terms of competition, the Maori have often been of a higher standard than many other countries' full test teams.

The Maori beat the British and Irish Lions in 2005, beat Canada 59-23 in 2007, and last year beat Japan, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Australia A to win the Pacific Nations Cup.

Maori players were once prevented by South Africa's apartheid laws from joining All Blacks tours to the republic.

They last toured South Africa in 1994 without meeting the Springboks.

- NZPA