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Emotions high as All Blacks meet those affected by Whakaari/White Island disaster

It's been an emotional day for the All Blacks as they met with survivors and family members of victims of the Whakaari/ White Island disaster in Whakatāne.

Twenty-one people died and many others were seriously injured when the volcano erupted on December 9, 2019.

The team gathered in Bay of Plenty amid news their Tests against the Wallabies next month could be played in front of crowds in Auckland and Wellington, with the Prime Minister announcing relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The team's gathering at Te Manuka Tutahi Marae was long-awaited, but also brought a dose of perspective.

"We can't even really start to imagine what the survivors or the families who've lost loved ones, so if we can bring a little joy to them today, come to training, spend a bit of time with them, that's all we can do," captain Sam Cane said. 

Halfback TJ Perenara said it was very special to meet those affected.

"Whānau that have suffered from that tragic event, I know there's nothing we can do to turn that pain around, but anything we can to do help or give back is something we want to to." 

Cane said he couldn't wait to get back playing in front of a crowd.

"Far out, the couple of weeks playing in front of next to no-one really hit home how much of an atmosphere a good crowd adds to a game," he said.