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All Blacks Coy On Jersey Hoo-ha

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Fuseworks Media

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 26 NZPA - Will it be all white on the night, or will the cunning French give the All Blacks some real rugby blues?

The tourists will wear white jerseys for a rare occasion in an offshore test on Sunday (NZT), due to the International Rugby Board's (IRB) edict that the away team change their strip if there is deemed to be a clash.

With France having darkened their blue jerseys in recent years, the All Blacks were obliged to switch to white, their new alternative strip revealed earlier this year.

But word reached the tourists in Marseille this week that France's jersey for this test was not as dark as that worn in that fateful 2007 World Cup quarterfinal, when the All Blacks faded to grey.

If they had indeed quietly switched back to a lighter shade, closer to the traditional French strip, then why the need to wear white?

It had All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith checking whether they could potentially return to black, but baggage man Errol Collins, who outfits the squad, said the white match jerseys had already been received and there was no going back.

Had France already scored some vital pre-test psychological points?

Coach Graham Henry was not about to stir on the subject today, saying a potential jersey hoo-ha had not bothered him unduly.

"The All Blacks obviously like to play in black, they would prefer to play in black. They are playing in white, and they accept that and get on with it," he said.

Team sponsor adidas unveiled the team's new black and white jerseys earlier this year.

The grey jersey, which the All Blacks wore in the World Cup quarterfinal after losing a coin toss, had apparently proved difficult to sell and white was seen as a better commercial option.

As New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said recently: "The silver one suffered from the game it was worn in. It has been retired. We have traditionally worn white and it is appropriate for us to wear it."

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