Maori All Blacks change four for French Barbarians
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan has made four changes to the run-on side with two players to make their debut against the French Barbarians.
Bay of Plenty captain Keepa Mewett will make his debut starting at No.5 while Sam Henwood will start at openside flank. Jackson Garden-Bachop and Shaun Stevenson both move into starting positions at No.10 and No.11 respectively.
Jonathan Ruru will make his debut off the bench.
McMillan said the match against Canada had taken a physical toll on the side.
"They're a bit banged up after Canada. The astro turf while it's nice to play on, it has its downsides. There are a number of boys sporting some nasty grazes and we picked up a couple of injuries in the game. But the boys are in good spirits and looking forward to the match.
"Keepa Mewett comes into the second row. He's had a really sound season, and he fronted really well against the British and Irish Lions for the New Zealand Barbarians this year, so I'm really confident in his ability to deliver in the areas that we want him to.
"Jonathan Ruru, Tei Walden, both out of Otago, have been playing really well for the best part of two seasons now. Jonno is a bigger boy and against the French we might need somebody who virtually half a forward and Tei gives us some versatility off the bench.
"Jackson Garden-Bachop had an outstanding National Provincial Championship and a little bit like the halfback situation, he gives us a little bit more size and the ability to be more direct and Ihaia [West] will give us speed off the bench."
Reflecting on a solid win against Canada, McMillan acknowledged that the Vancouver match had been far from perfect.
"I think we turned the ball over a little too cheaply, and our basic skill-set let us down at times. But overall, we're pretty happy with the performance.
"We're expecting the French to want to take our side up front, to be direct, but it would be remiss of us to think they aren't going to play traditional Barbarians rugby at some stage, and look to give it some air, which is French rugby, let alone Barbarians rugby."
Maori All Blacks: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Tom Franklin, 5 Keepa Mewett, 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 Manihera, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Teihorangi Walden,
Date: Friday, November 10
Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
Kick-off: 20.45 (19.45 GMT; 08.45 NZ Time, Saturday, November 11)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant referees: TBC (France)