AB's to visit Heartland before Cup

by RUGBY.com.au staff

The All Blacks will spend a day visiting heartland New Zealand a week out from the Rugby World Cup.

Groups of players will visit 11 towns spread through the country on September 2, a day before the squad officially assembles and seven days before the All Blacks and Tonga play the opening match of the tournament at Eden Park in Auckland.

The towns are: Kaeo, Te Puke, Gisborne, Stratford, Waipukurau and Carterton in the North Island and Motueka, Hokitika, Rangiora, Cromwell and Winton in the South Island.

"It's a chance to say thanks and to make people who wouldn't see the All Blacks feel part of their team," skipper Richie McCaw said on Monday.

McCaw himself hails from a small rural locality -- Kurow, population 339, in North Otago.

"I know what it's like living there while all the action seems to take place in the cities," he said.

"So we're really looking forward to heading to heartland New Zealand."

The players will be hosted by the local council and rugby community.

For information, pictures, videos and much more on the 2011 ARU Wallaby Towns initiative, supported by Qantas, click here.