Dixon leads Maori All Blacks
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Highlanders star Ash Dixon will captain the Maori All Blacks on their Northern Hemisphere tour in November.
Dixon will lead a squad with six new caps, including this year's New Zealand Under-20 captain, Wellington's Leni Apisai.
"This is an exciting time for all those involved in this special team," said Maori All Blacks head coach Colin Cooper.
"We're delighted with the squad we have announced – we think there's an incredible mix of experience and very wise heads, and a special crop of new talent that has been exciting to watch in action in Super Rugby and the National Provincial Championship.
"This team continues to be an important opportunity for players looking to push for higher honours.
"We are particularly delighted for Rieko Ioane who was named for the first time with the All Blacks on Sunday – and he joins several Maori All Blacks who have earned a call-up to the All Blacks in recent years – Nehe Milner Skudder, Codie Taylor, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Joe Moody, Brad Weber, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire, Damian McKenzie and last year’s skipper Charlie Ngatai currently unavailable due to concussion."
Dixon will take over from Charlie Ngatai in the captain's role.
"We continue to work closely with the All Blacks coaches to ensure that we are aligned and these selections demonstrate the strength of the Maori All Blacks as a high-performance team," Cooper added.
"It's also good that both teams are in Chicago and the United Kingdom at the same time so that we can retain that alignment.
"We are looking forward to heading to Chicago to play the USA Eagles. Playing any national side is an honour, and they're a team that's cementing their place in international rugby.
"Our matches against Munster and Harlequins will also be very special as we love taking the Maori All Blacks' style of rugby to other countries."
Five players still involved in NPC Finals will join the squad in Auckland after their matches this weekend.
Maori All Blacks: Leni Apisai, Tim Bateman, Otere Black, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon (captain), Whetu Douglas, Jason Emery, Chris Eves, Tom Franklin, Billy Guyton, Kane Hames, Akira Ioane, Mike Kainga, James Lowe, Ben May, Marty McKenzie, Leighton Price, Reed Prinsep, Matt Proctor, Kara Pryor, Marcel Renata, Joe Royal, Jacob Skeen, Sean Wainui, Brad Weber, Ihaia West (One more name is to be added).
Maori All Blacks 2016 schedule:
November 4 v USA Eagles, Toyota Park, Chicago
November 11 v Munster, Thomond Park, Limerick
November 16 v Harlequins, Twickenham Stoop, London