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Classics face upcoming stars

Kameli Rakoko
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TONIGHT'S Classic All Blacks match against the Flying Fijians will mark the 100 years since the beginning of Fijian rugby and the rugby matches shared between Fiji and the All Blacks.

It is also a prestigious occasion since it marks the first international match played on the newly-renovated ANZ Stadium.

The match against the Classic All Blacks is only proper as New Zealand has been our rugby motherland and the Kiwis have over the years developed rugby with development programs, coaching clinics, coaches and technical officials since they first introduced the game here in 1913 by a PJ Sheehan.

He also organised the first All Blacks tour here in 1913, influencing them to stop over here for a match on the way home from a tour of the northern hemisphere and he scored the only points in the 67-3 loss.

The relationship between Fiji and New Zealand is like that of a father and son or mentor and protege, or teacher and student.

For many years now we have often regarded New Zealand as a foe on the rugby field.

But, like the teacher they are, the Kiwis have never stopped teaching us crucial lessons in rugby and the recent, though painful, exercise was the whipping of our Baby Flying Fijians in France. The teacher will always be the teacher, and so is the student.

How many times we beat them or came close to beating them, they will always come out in the final moments to win big games as proven in the All Blacks tours of 1968 and 1974.

Somehow over the years Fijian rugby teams have been coached by Kiwis and they became successful and this proves that they know more about rugby than we really think we do.

The highlight of this relationship between Fiji and New Zealand is that three Fijians, who plied their trade and became successful rugby stars in the land of the long white cloud, will be in action against Fiji.

Former All Black wingers Sitiveni Sivivatu, Joe Rokocoko and former Auckland Blues star winger Rupeni Caucau will appear for the Kiwis.

Classic All Blacks is a New Zealand team made up of the finest All Blacks players who were no longer contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

Formed in 2007, the team has played Japan on three occasions winning all meetings, English Aviva Premiership side Leicester Tigers and Classic teams from France and Australia.

Among the stars of the team are flanker Jerome Kaino, Chris Masoe and Justin Marshall.

The Classic All Blacks have played against Japan three times, the Leceister Tigers, the Classic Wallabies and the Classic Frenchmen.

The Classic All Blacks will be managed by former All Black lock Andy Haden.

Caucau has been reported to be back in his 108kg weight and he is a guest player for the Classic All Blacks.

Meanwhile, our Flying Fijians will be in full strength again with Sireli Bobo, Netani Talei and Nikola Matawalu back in action.

Fiji will have recovered well since their loss to Canada and big Fijian centre Nadolo will face Caucau at centre and this is just one of the highlights, while Sivivatu and Rokocoko will be up against some of the upcoming speedsters and golden oldie Sireli Bobo.

The match kicks off at 6pm tonight at the ANZ Stadium.

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