Wellington - The All Blacks will play their first ever Test in the Pacific Islands next year against Samoa as part of their build-up to the Rugby World Cup, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said Tuesday.
The long-awaited clash will take place in Apia on July 8, 2015.
NZRU chairperson Brent Impey said the match was a way of marking the close rugby links between Samoa and New Zealand, who have fielded numerous players of Samoan heritage including greats such as Bryan Williams, Frank Bunce, Michael Jones and current All Black Keven Mealamu.
"Importantly, we are not only honouring rugby's Pacific heritage, we are also providing players with a meaningful Test as part of our plan to ensure the All Blacks are in the best possible shape to win in England in 2015," he said.
Despite New Zealand's close proximity, the All Blacks have never played a Test in Samoa, Fiji or Tonga, with commercial considerations and a crowded international fixture list seen as the major obstacles.
As recently as May, the NZRU had said the world champions' schedule meant there were no opportunities for a fixture until 2019.
New Zealand have played Samoa five times, winning all, with the most recent encounter a 101-14 mauling in New Plymouth in 2008.
The World Cup will hosted by England from September 18 until October 31 next year.