The Blues will play the Hurricanes at Mahurangi Rugby Club on Thursday 15 February, with both teams embarking on their Super Rugby season the following week.
The match sponsored by Westie Pies, will be hosted by North Harbour Rugby Union and the Mahurangi Rugby Club. Both teams are expected to incorporate a number of All Blacks for the first time before the Super Rugby season gets underway.
It will be a key encounter for both teams, with the Hurricanes heading to South Africa after the game to prepare for their Super Rugby opener, and the Blues going to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders.
Blues head coach Tana Umaga said it will be a key clash for both teams ahead of the Super Rugby season.
“It will be the only time both squads have access to all players including their All Blacks, and it is an important game for us to test our systems before the start of the competition,” said Tana Umaga.
“It is also a pleasure for us to have the opportunity to venture to a traditional country rugby club and support the region.”
North Harbour General Manager Dave Gibson said the union was thrilled to host a Blues pre-season clash of such significance, and that the location of Warkworth meant the match will be easily accessible to rugby fans of North Harbour and Northland.
“It will be a special event for our region. Bringing this game to one of our hard working clubs will not only be a memorable experience energising a passionate local community, but it will also assist in growing participation across the province”
“It is also on the border with our Northland Taniwha community so the fans from our neighbouring Blues province also have the chance to experience the spectacle and show their support.”
It will also be a proud moment for the Mahurangi Rugby Club, formed nearly 30 years ago after an amalgamation of three local clubs, although the game dates back over 150 years in the area.
“Everyone at the club and in and around Warkworth is really fizzing about this game. We think we can provide a unique venue, and maybe it can develop into a regular pre-season venue like the other Super teams are doing.”
The club’s most famous rugby players were Blues and All Black stars Zinzan and Robin Brooke and fellow All Black Murray Jones.
Entry to the match will be by gold coin donation to support the Mahurangi club. Kick-off at 4pm on Thursday 15 February.
The Blues first pre-season match is against the Chiefs in Te Kuiti on Friday 2 February, with the club competing at the Brisbane 10s the following weekend ahead of the match against the Hurricanes at Mahurangi.
Membership for the Blues is from $179 for eight home games, all at the spiritual home of rugby in New Zealand at Eden Park. Details: www.theblues.co.nz/memberships
[Image Courtesy: Photosport NZ]