Live rugby updates: All Blacks name first squad of the year

Follow live as the All Blacks name their first squad of the 2021 test season.

The All Blacks upcoming July schedule has been confirmed.

Ian Foster’s side will begin the 2021 season on Saturday July 3 at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, for the first time in what will be an historic test against Tonga.

The match is also a double-header with the Māori All Blacks playing Manu Samoa beforehand.

The All Blacks will then play back-to-back tests against Fiji – their first ever series against the Pacific Island nation.

The All Blacks have played Fiji nine times before, but not since 2011 in what was the final test match at Carisbrook in Dunedin. The first match against Fiji was in Suva in 1974, with the All Blacks pipping the home side that day 14-13.

The first test against Fiji is at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, on Saturday 10 July followed by the second test at Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on July 17. It will also be a double-header with Tonga playing Samoa in a Rugby World Cup 2023 Qualifying match prior.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to confirm what will be a fantastic series of matches featuring the All Blacks, Māori All Blacks and our Pacific neighbours, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa,” New Zealand Rugby NZR CEO Mark Robinson said.

“We look forward to welcoming the Flying Fijians to New Zealand for what will be an historic, first-ever, back-to-back All Blacks Test Series against them.

“We know the passionate All Blacks and Māori All Blacks fans, together with the fanatical Pasifika fans, will make these game days very special occasions.”

The All Blacks last played Tonga in Hamilton in 2019 ahead of the Rugby World Cup and have played ‘Ikale Tahi six times.

Meanwhile, Manu Samoa will also play a second RWC 2023 Qualifying match against Tonga, with further details on that match to be confirmed at a later date.

The All Blacks schedule for The Rugby Championship, as well as an additional Bledisloe Cup Test, will be announced in due course, with Eden Park and Wellington’s Sky Stadium expected to host a number of games.

July tests

All Blacks vs Tonga, Saturday 3 July, 7.05PM, plus Māori All Blacks vs Manu Samoa (kick-off TBC), Mt Smart Stadium

All Blacks vs Fiji, Saturday 10 July, 7.05PM, Forsyth Barr Stadium

All Blacks vs Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05PM, plus Tonga vs Samoa (kick-off TBC), FMG Stadium Waikato

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