Some of the All Black squad started game day visiting the children's cancer ward at Christchurch Hospital
By Juliet Speedy
It is 680 days since the All Blacks last played a test in Christchurch.
After the city has endured thousands of earthquakes and been starved of Rugby World Cup games, the boys are finally back in town to play Ireland, with seven of the city's own Crusaders in tonight's starting line up.
Tonight's game sold out within minutes of going on sale, with Canterburians thrilled to finally have a taste of the World Cup heroes back in the city. Although the weather's not great, it certainly hasn't stopped the city lapping up the All Black's return.
Some of the All Black squad started game day visiting the children's cancer ward at Christchurch Hospital.
The kids won't be at the game tonight, but having the All Blacks back in the city and visiting them made their day.
The All Blacks are thrilled to be back in Canterbury.
“It's really awesome to be back down here,” says Keven Mealamu. “It has been such a while since we played a test down here, so it's really nice. The boys are really looking forward to putting a good one on for the people down here.”
Those braving chilly temperatures at Saturday morning kids sport were excited.
“It’s fantastic to have the All Blacks back in town,” says fan Gary Lund. “It's great for our city to have the boys back in town, so really looking forward to it.”
Mr Lund is at the game tonight with his son Harrison.
“I’m feeling good about it,” says Harrison Lund. “Hopefully the All Blacks will win.”
“Everyone in Christchurch needs something like that because we're still bumming out and we're still getting aftershocks,” says resident Benjamin Wilson-Wirihana.
Those are aftershocks that the All Blacks got a taste of earlier this week.
“It was big for me on Tuesday morning, so I couldn't get back to sleep,” says Mealamu. “I was a little bit worried, but talking to the Christchurch boys they said it was nothing really.”
They're also gearing up for a cold game with temperatures today hovering in the single digits with showers expected on and off tonight.
But residents of Christchurch are used to that and it won't stop them from filling up the stadium and the few pubs that are left around the city with many doing a roaring trade.
Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/All-Blacks-lift-spirits-in-Christchurch/tabid/423/articleID/257986/Default.aspx#ixzz1y1C7hlW9