Five 'rookies' in Maori team
Fri, 01 Nov 2013 21:34
It's going to be tough in their backyard
Five players will make their debut for a strong Maori team to play Canada in Toronto on Sunday.
Kane Hames, Joe Wheeler, Liam Squire, Luke Braid and All Black wing Zac Guildford have all been named in the run-on team.
Bay of Plenty prop Hames in particular has had a stellar season, earning selection for the Maori All Blacks in his first year in the NPC as well as a Super Rugby contract with the Highlanders.
Coach Colin Cooper says he's pleased with the balance in the side, based on NPC and Super Rugby form.
"Those boys are the in-form players at the moment, so they get the first opportunity. There's been plenty of competition for places and that's what makes this group exciting, anyone can replace anyone," he said.
The Maori All Blacks defeated Canada 32-19 on last year's tour to the United Kingdom.
Canada come to the match ranked 14th in the world and are coached by former Taranaki coach Kieran Crowley.
Sunday's game is a sell-out with 22,000 fans expected to pack out BMO Field making it the largest ever rugby crowd in Canada.
"It's going to be tough in their backyard," Cooper said.
"There's an Argentinean referee so interpretations may be different to what we are used to at home. Conditions will be cold and possibly wet, so they may not suit our Maori brand of rugby, but we will certainly make sure we play a winning game plan."
Historically, Canada has not fared well against the Maori All Blacks, much like the rest of the world. Canada has lost all four meetings against the Maori, with the most recent coming in November 2012.
When it comes to the international level, the Maori All Blacks have dominated.
Since 1996, the squad has only lost three matches against international teams. The side’s last loss to an international side came against England in 2003.
To date, only three countries, England, Wales and Australia have recorded victories against the legendary side.
Win or lose, Sunday’s clash will etch another chapter in the history of the Maori All Blacks.
Canadian squad: Tyler Ardron, Ray Barkwill, Nick Blevins, Connor Braid, Hubert Buydens, Aaron Carpenter (captain), Nanyak Dala, Matt Evans, Aaron Flagg, Kyle Gilmour, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Jake Illnicki, Harry Jones, Adam Kleeberger, Phil Mack, Jamie Mackenzie, Ryan March, John Moonlight, Pat Parfrey, Jon Phelan, Mike Scholz, Andrew Tiedemann, Conor Trainor, Liam Underwood, Doug Wooldridge.
Maori All Blacks: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tim Bateman, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Chris Eves, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 Ash Dixon, 19 Blade Thomson, 20 Shane Christie, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, Matt Proctor.
Date: Sunday, November 3
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto
Kick-off: 13.00 (18.00 GMT; 07.00, Monday, November 4 NZ time)
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
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