All you need to know ahead of the All Blacks' clash against Tonga in Hamilton.

World Cup warm-up

It's the All Blacks' final test before heading off to Japan. Coach Steve Hansen said the Tonga match is a chance to play as many players as possible they want to use for the World Cup opener against the Springboks. Tonga, who lost to Fiji at Eden Park last weekend, will also hope to sharpen the knives before the tournament against the reigning world champs.

Match details: Saturday September 7, 2.35pm, FMG Stadium, Hamilton

Referee: Angus Gardner


Traffic problems

Emergency services have been forced to close all southbound lanes of State Highway 1 near Hampton Downs after a crash.

Two vehicles were involved in the incident before the Hampton Downs exit around 11.20am.

It was unclear when the scene would be clear and what time the highway would be reopened.

The closure could affect the travel plans of rugby fans heading to FMG Stadium in Hamilton to watch the All Blacks take on Tonga at 2.35pm.

A small detour had been put in place, NZ Transport Agency said but advised motorists they would face delays, which were expected to grow.

Southbound traffic would take the Hampton Downs off-ramp before using the on-ramp to rejoin SH1, the Agency said.

Police asked motorists to delay their travel or avoid the area if possible.

The All Blacks perform the haka. Photo / Photosport
The All Blacks perform the haka. Photo / Photosport

Three talking points



With several All Black players – Dane Coles, Sam Cane, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga – already missing out with various minor niggles, the last thing Hansen and co. will want is more injury worries right before the World Cup. The same goes for Tonga coach Toutai Kefu.

Ben Smith

The veteran utility back gets a start at his preferred fullback role, with Beauden Barrett moving back to No 10 to replace Mo'unga. It'll be a big opportunity for Smith, who has come under criticism lately from fans and pundits, to impress coaches and solidify a potential starting role at wing for the All Blacks' first game against the Springboks in Japan - with Mo'unga looking likely to return to first-five by then. Earlier in the week, Hansen revealed, quite surprisingly, that Smith's form slump has had less to do with his recovery from a hamstring strain and more to a loss of self-belief and confidence.

From 9-5 to the World Cup: The roofer taking on the All Blacks

Uncapped Siua Maile, who was a shock inclusion to Tonga's Rugby World Cup squad announced earlier this week, will be a fresh faced mystery the All Blacks will have to deal with. In fact, even coach Kefu admits he "still doesn't know much about him". The 22-year-old Maile, a full-time roofer who will start at hooker, will make a dream international debut against the All Blacks.

How to watch

The Herald will be live blogging the match from 1.30pm and Radio Sport will have live commentary. Sky coverage starts at 1.30pm on Sky Sport 1.






All Blacks 5

Last time:

All Blacks 47, Tonga 9 (Rugby World Cup 2015)



All Blacks:

1 Joe Moody 2 Codie Taylor 3 Nepo Laulala 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 5 Samuel Whitelock 6 Ardie Savea 7 Matt Todd 8 Kieran Read (c) 9 TJ Perenara 10 Beauden Barrett 11 George Bridge 12 Ryan Crotty 13 Anton Lienert-Brown 14 Sevu Reece 15 Ben Smith

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Jordie Barrett.

Tonga: 15 David Halaifonua 14 Cooper Vuna 13 Mali Hingano 12 Siale Piutau (c) 11 Viliami Lolohea 10 Kurt Morath 9 Tane Takulua 8 Ma'ama Vaipul 7 Fotu Lokotui 6 Sione Kalamafoni 5 Leva Fifita 4 Sam Lousi 3 Siua Halanukonuka 2 Siua Maile 1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi

Reserves: Sione Anga'aelangi, Vunipola Fifita, Ma'afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Zane Kapeli, Leon Fukofuka, James Faiva, Afa Pakalani.