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All Blacks keen to send off veterans in style

There will be added emotion when a number of All Blacks play their final match on New Zealand soil this weekend.

Saturday's second Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin test will be the last home game for several veterans.

Sam Whitelock, Richie Mo'unga, Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles are among the players set to retire or move offshore after the World Cup.

All Blacks assistant coach Jason Ryan said while the players contributions will be acknowledged, victory against the Wallabies in Dunedin is the priority.

"There's always emotion in a test week, guys get to represent the country so it's important. I think this one just being down in Dunedin where I think the first Bledisloe was played many, many years ago. So we want to get down there and have really good performance."

Hooker Codie Taylor says the All Blacks want to send off their teammates in style and victory in Dunedin would be the perfect swansong.

"I'm sure a lot of the boys have thought about that and to play at home is always special. So all going well, hopefully they get a chance to go out there and finish their careers in New Zealand on a high would be nice."

The All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor.
Australia v New Zealand All Blacks. Perth, 2021.
Copyright photo: Daniel Carson / www.photosport.nz

Codie Taylor wants to see off his long-time rival and teammate Dane Coles with an All Blacks win this weekend. Photo: Â© Photosport Ltd 2021 www.photosport.nz

With both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship locked away, the All Blacks may look to give some wider squad members a crack in Dunedin.

Ryan said whoever takes the field, the high standards must be maintained.

"We definitely won't compromise performance. We will prepare with the utmost respect. It's a special test match for us being the last one at home this year, and something that we want to really build on the performances that we've had so far."

Players such as loose forward Samipeni Finau may be among those to get a run under the roof.

Ryan says Finau has impressed in camp and is rearing for his first taste of test match rugby.

Chiefs loose forward Samipeni Finau.

Samipeni Finau will be hoping for his first taste of test rugby this weekend. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"Everything that we saw in Super Rugby, we're seeing in his training's, he's very diligent. He prides himself on getting his homework done, and he's had a real good physical presence and training so that's what we want from our six. So he's tracking away nicely."

Taylor contributes the All Blacks' scorching run of form to players being treated equally in camp regardless of experience.

This season has already seen the introduction of prop Tamaiti Williams and halfback Cam Roigard to the All Blacks.

Roigard is still pinching himself after winning the Bledisloe Cup in his first game in the coveted jersey.

The Hurricanes halfback came off the bench during the All Blacks 38-7 win over the Wallabies.

Roigard said he has known the haka by heart since he was young, but nothing could prepare him for performing it in front of 80,000 fans at the MCG.

"A dream come true. A dream debut. There's no real bigger occasion. We know how much the Bledisloe Cup means to us and the Rugby Championship, so to be a part of one of those games and for it to be my debut as well is pretty awesome."

Taylor said players feel comfortable in camp whether they have played 100 tests or one.

"I think that environment this year, like there is obviously leadership and seniority amongst the group, but it's always a good sign when the younger boys that come in for their first time, feel comfortable to express themselves and be their own person.

"When you can't be that, it does affect your rugby. So I'm excited to see if those boys get an opportunity. And if they do, I'm sure they'll do us proud."

Aaron Smith of New Zealand during the New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa Springboks rugby union match at Mbombela Stadium, South Africa on Saturday 6 August 2022. Photosport.

Aaron Smith is set to play his final All Blacks match in his beloved Dunedin this weekend. Photo: Christiaan Kotze


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