All Blacks skipper Kieran Read has stressed the need to improve on his side's last performance in the final game before the Rugby World Cup and his last on New Zealand soil.

It may be difficult for the All Blacks to go beyond what they achieved in beating the Wallabies 36-0 to retain the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park last month, and Read was wary about adding to the expectation, but the test against Tonga at Waikato Stadium tonight was important in its own right.

"Obviously each game is different, that's the nature of this game and who you're playing but we're certainly striving to be better," Read said after the All Blacks' captain's run. "It's important we are focused on this game and this game only.

"I'm expecting a lot," he said of Tonga. "They have played a number of games this year already and they've improved each time. We know their support will be strong and they're a team that has so much pride in their jersey."


The test will provide both teams with a valuable run-out ahead of the first game of the World Cup in Japan, which kicks off in a fortnight. And for Read at least there is little room for emotion. After the World Cup he will move to Japan to take up a contract with Toyota, the club which All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is rumoured to be also joining.

"To be honest I haven't really thought about it," Read said. "I'm preparing for this game, Tonga, tomorrow, and that is my focus at the moment."

"It's a test match for us so that's our focus. We've prepared this week as if we've playing any other team in the world. This week it's Tonga and once we get through this game, on Sunday, we'll think about the next one."

The test is likely to feature a debut proper for 24-year-old Josh Ioane, a first-five on the bench at Waikato Stadium who was in a similar position in Buenos Aires against Argentina in the Rugby Championship without getting on the field.

Asked whether Ioane was comfortable ordering the more senior players around, Read said: "I wouldn't say he's comfortable but we've given him that confidence to do that. It will be great to get him out on the field tomorrow. He's been a big part of this group over the last couple of months and he's done what's needed from his point of view."

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