All Blacks second-string team to tour

An All Blacks XV second-tier team will tour the northern hemisphere later this year as NZ Rugby seeks ways to keep top players in the country and raise money.

An All Blacks second-string team will tour the northern hemisphere this year in New Zealand Rugby's latest ploy to keep top-flight players in the country and raise revenue.

NZ Rugby hopes the "All Blacks XV" tour will become an annual event, beginning this year with a three-week trip which begins in late October.

Chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said the team will provide an aspirational target for players who are on the fringe of All Blacks selection.

"The All Blacks XV will be our second-tier team below the All Blacks and made up of New Zealand's 'next best' players," Cass said.

"The high-performance benefits of this team will be significant. It will help to develop the next group of players, many of whom will likely become our future All Blacks, as well as give further opportunities for our coaches and other team personnel."

Cass said the concept was also designed as a means to stem the departure of players to offshore club contracts.

Opponents for the three-match tour are yet to be revealed but are likely to comprise second-string line-ups from other nations.

The last time such a New Zealand team was formed was 2009, when there was a Kiwi presence in the Pacific Nations Cup.

NZ Rugby has undergone a wholesale review with a view to finding means to address a difficult financial marketplace.

It has linked with a sports promotion company to advertise and promote the All Blacks XV games for the next two years.

"It will play offshore in growing rugby markets that are of strategic and commercial importance, allowing us to showcase and grow New Zealand's brand of rugby in many more parts of the world," Cass said.


AAP