VIDEO: Ngatai at fullback for Maori All Blacks

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 09:26

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Maori All Blacks have included eight new caps in their side for their clash against Canada.

Manawatu’s Jackson Hemopo gets a start at lock with Shaun Stevenson, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sam Henwood, Jordan Manihera, Tyrel Lomax, Ross Wright and Liam Polwart to debut off the bench. 

Head coach Clayton McMillan said they had high expectations of a good performance on a quick track at BC Place, the venue for the Friday's fixture. 

"We're pretty happy with how things are ticking along, we've had some good training. 

"Everyone who is here deserves their opportunity to represent the Maori All Blacks and while they may be lacking for a bit of experience at this level, they certainly make up for it in enthusiasm, and I am really happy with the way the team has bonded.

"We don't see it as a starting XV and eight off the bench -  it's a full squad of 27 with everyone including those boys not playing, working to help us prepare," he said. 
  
McMillan said selecting Charlie Ngatai at fullback had been a calculated choice after discussion with Ngatai's Taranaki and former Maori All Blacks coach, Colin Cooper. 
  
"We had a policy of selecting our backline around versatility and people who can play multiple positions, and we were limited by the numbers we could bring on tour. 

"Charlie's got great experience, great comms, a big boot, and he’ll be very good for the younger guys." 
  
The venue for Friday's match will be played in front of a sell-out 29 000 fans, and the match promises to be played at pace, McMillan predicted.  It will be the largest audience in Canada for a single game of XVs rugby. 
  
"Canada is playing at home, it's a unique stadium with roof and astro turf, so it will be fast, matched with physicality. They have a big pack and strong carrying backs, so we expect a tough battle," McMillan said.

Maori All Blacks: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Tom Franklin, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Chris Eves. 
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Jordan Manihere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23v Shaun Stevenson. 

Date: Friday, November 3
Venue: BC Place Stadium, Vancouver
Kick-off: 19:00 (02:00 GMT, Saturday, November 4; 15.00 NZ Time, Saturday, November 4)
Referee: Kurt Weaver (USA)
Assistant referees: TBC (USA)