James Mortimer - (11/08/2012)
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said if he had the opportunity in the past to play the men in black via his province he would have found it "exciting", while hooker Keven Mealamu said that playing against Auckland was never easy.
The World Champion All Blacks took on Auckland and Counties last night in a match which was designed in many respects to clear the cobwebs, with players from the Blues, Highlanders and Hurricanes not playing since July 13.
While there were no Chiefs involved in the two 20-minute halves, the Crusaders, despite playing in the Investec Super Rugby semi-finals, played with McCaw and Dan Carter getting extended runs.
McCaw said to ONE Sport that he thought any New Zealand player would love the opportunity to have a crack against the All Blacks.
"It's pretty cool isn't it?" he said.
"I was just thinking to myself if the boot was on the other foot it would be pretty exciting playing this sort of thing and to come along and watch so it was a nice occasion.
"It was a good run-around."
Mealamu, with plenty of local connections, said that it was a great game, and said that his fellow Aucklanders were never going to be easy opposition.
"I tell you it isn't easy when you're playing against the blue and white hoops," he said.
"I know there was people coming from Papakura and Manurewa as well so really good to see a good crowd here tonight and it's good to be out here."
Mealamu, who had an injury interrupted season with the Blues, came through unscatched, as did all of the All Blacks including Kieran Read, who is recovering from his rib concerns.
The most capped All Blacks hooker in history said that while he might have been familiar with some Auckland players and some Steelers, they tore into the All Blacks as soon as the whistle went.
"As the good old cliche goes, mates off the field, but when we're out there we're just going for gold," he said.
"They kept us on our toes and that's what we need going into a big test like this so it's bloody good."