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Haden no stranger to Welford Rd battles

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New Zealand rugby legend Andy Haden is no stranger to tough contests at Welford Road and he is not expecting anything different when he returns as a member of the Classic All Blacks management team.

Assistant coach Haden will work alongside coach Peter Sloane and team manager Sean Fitzpatrick as the Classic All Blacks prepare to face Leicester Tigers on Sunday, May 25.

"I remember playing at Leicester on the 1978 All Black tour and sneaking a win. Peter Wheeler and his mates made things difficult for us – a crusty lot they were!” says Haden who made more than 100 appearances for the All Blacks, 41 of them in Test matches.

That trip to Welford Road brought a 20-15 victory against a Midlands Division captained by Tigers hooker Wheeler and including his clubmates Robin Cowling, Ian Smith, Garry Adey, Paul Dodge, Brian Hall, John Duggan and Dusty Hare.

Haden and the All Blacks returned a year later when Tigers made up more than half of the Midlands line-up, with Steve Redfern, Les Cusworth and Clive Woodward among those called up but unable to prevent a 33-7 defeat.

“We have a few in the Classic All Blacks team who will be looking forward to tangling with the Tigers in two weeks’ time - Daryl Gibson will be one,” said Haden ahead of his return to the East Midlands.

Fitzpatrick, a regular guest on Sky Sports’ rugby coverage in England, won a record 92 Test caps in the New Zealand front row and captained the team on more than 50 occasions, establishing himself as one of his country’s greatest-ever players.

Sloane has had previous spells as assistant coach with the national team and Northampton Saints and led Auckland Blues to Super 12 victory in 2003.

Tickets for Leicester Tigers versus Classic All Blacks on Sunday, May 25 (3pm kick-off) are on sale now. 

Contact the Tigers ticket office on 08701 28 34 30 or call in at Welford Road. 

Special discounted rates for season ticket holders and members, and their guests, are available until May 23 but you are advised to book early to guarantee the best seats available.