Pace and power and Maori All Blacks squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Māori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper has named an experienced squad to play the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua next Saturday.
Announced in Auckland on Thursday by Māori Rugby Board Chair Farah Palmer, the squad features three new caps among a number of experienced players who have previously had the honour of pulling on the jersey.
Cooper is looking forward to bringing the players together in Rotorua, along with the management team, to face the Lions.
"We've got a very exciting group coming together to experience this special and rare occasion. The majority of us have been working together over the past couple of years so we already have an understanding of each other and clarity around what we're looking to achieve."
Cooper said the magnitude of the match was huge and representing the country, New Zealand Rugby and Māoridom was always front of mind for the Māori All Blacks.
"Knowing the ground will be full for the match, and getting a feel for the support that's coming from the Rotorua community in hosting us, along with the rest of New Zealand around the Series and the match itself is exciting.
"We're very much looking forward to bringing our whānau together over the weekend to start focusing on how we're going to present ourselves to the Lions, and the world, as the Māori All Blacks," Cooper added.
These two sides last met in 2005, when the Māori All Blacks upset the touring British and Irish Lions 19-13 at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Māori All Blacks squad:
Forwards: Chris Eves (North Harbour), Kane Hames (Tasman), Mike Kainga (Taranaki), Ben May (Hawke’s Bay), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Ash Dixon (captain, Hawke’s Bay ), Hikawera Elliot (Counties Manukau), Tom Franklin (Otago), Leighton Price (Taranaki), Joe Wheeler (Tasman), Elliot Dixon (Southland), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Liam Messam (Waikato), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Kara Pryor (Northland).
Backs: Bryn Hall (North Harbour), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki), Otere Black (Manawatu), Ihaia West (Hawke’s Bay), Tim Bateman (Canterbury), Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki), Matt Proctor (Wellington), Rob Thompson (Canterbury), James Lowe (Tasman) Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), Declan O'Donnell (Taranaki).
Coaching and management team:
Head coach: Colin Cooper
Assistant coach: Tana Umaga
Set-piece coach: Carl Hoeft
Manager: Tony Ward
Kaumatua: Luke Crawford
Media Manager: Hannah Fleming
Doctor: Zig Khouri
Physiotherapist: Ash Draper
Strength and Conditioning coach: Brad Anderson
Analyst: Jayson Ross
Logisitics/Massage: Paul Minehan