The Māori All Blacks 2015 squad to play Fiji and the New Zealand Barbarians next month was named in Wellington today and features 10 new caps.
The squad will again be captained by Chiefs midfield back Charlie Ngatai.
The Māori All Blacks squad is:
|Joe Royal ~||Te Arawa/Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei/Ngāpuhi||– Bay of Plenty|
|Ash Dixon ~||Ngāti Tahinga||– Hawke’s Bay|
|Quentin MacDonald* ~||Rangitāne||– Tasman|
|Chris Eves ~||Tainui||– Manawatu|
|Brendon Edmonds ~||Ngāti Kahungunu||– Hawke’s Bay|
|Josh Hohneck* ~||Ngāti Whātua/Ngāti Manuhiri||– Waikato|
|Ben May ~||Ngāti Maniapoto||– Wellington|
|Hayden Triggs ~||Ngāti Kahungunu||Auckland|
|Jacob Skeen* ~||Ngāpuhi||Waikato|
|Blade Thomson ~||Ngāpuhi||Taranaki|
|Shane Christie ~||Te Atihaunui a Paparangi/Ngāti Kurawhatia||– Tasman|
|Elliot Dixon ~||Ngāpuhi||– Southland|
|Akira Ioane* ~||Te Whānau-ā-Apanui||– Auckland|
|Heiden Bedwell-Curtis ~||Ngāpuhi||– Manawatu|
|Mitchell Crosswell ~||Ngāti Porou||– Taranaki|
|Jamison Gibson-Park ~||Ngāti Porou/Ngā Tai||– Taranaki|
|Brad Weber* ~||Ngāti Porou||– Waikato|
|Damian McKenzie* ~||Ngāti Tūwharetoa||– Waikato|
|Otere Black* ~||Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau-ā-Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa||– Manawatu|
|Jason Emery ~||Ngāti Haua/Ngāti Maniapoto||– Manawatu|
|Charlie Ngatai (c) ~||Ngāti Porou/Te Whanau-a-Apanui||– Taranaki|
|Sean Wainui* ~||Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngāti Porou||– Taranaki|
|Kurt Baker ~||Ngāpuhi||– Taranaki|
|Rieko Ioane* ~||Te Whānau-ā-Apanui||– Auckland|
|Marty McKenzie ~||Ngāti Tūwharetoa||– Taranaki|
|Matt Proctor ~||Ngāi te Rangi/Ngāpuhi||– Wellington|
|Codey Rei* ~||Ngā Ruahine/Te Ātiawa||– Taranaki|
2014 Māori All Blacks squad members not available because of injury were; Tom Franklin, Mike Kainga, James Lowe, Sean Polwart, Dan Pryor and Joe Webber.
The 27-strong squad departs for Fiji on Wednesday 8 July.
Strong squad for 2015
Coach Colin Cooper said the 2015 squad was an exciting mix of experienced hands and promising young talent. It includes 13 players who took part in last year’s tour to Japan and three members of the successful New Zealand Under 20 team which won the recent World Championship title in Italy.
“This is a well-balanced side with some very experienced campaigners who have now played on several tours and know our systems well. I’ll be expecting them to lead by example and show the new boys the high standards we expect.
“We have a proud record of success to uphold and I am sure this side will work hard to honour the great legacy of the Māori All Blacks,” said Cooper.
Exciting young talent on display
“It is very pleasing to introduce some exciting new talent to the 2015 side. Akira Ioane has really impressed with the Blues this year and both he, Otere Black and Sean Wainui are coming off the great win for New Zealand Under 20 at the World Championship in Italy so I am sure they will want to carry on that form. Rieko Ioane will also provide great pace out wide and he’s hugely matured with the All Blacks Sevens this year despite still only being 18 years old.
“We’ve also seen how well Damian McKenzie has equipped himself in his first season at the Chiefs which is a huge test for any young man. He’s shown incredible maturity so he along with his brother Marty who toured with us last year, will strengthen the backline,” said Cooper.
Fans urged to support the Māori All Blacks at Eden Park
“We’re really looking forward to this tour. These players have a great opportunity to test their skills against a tough international opponent in Fiji as it looks to build for the Rugby World Cup and the Barbarians match will also be a stiff contest.
“We hope fans come out and support the Māori All Blacks at home as we haven’t played in New Zealand since 2010. This is a top chance to see some of the best players in the country test their skills against what we expect to be a very strong Barbarians side.
“We know the Barbarians also have a proud reputation to uphold like us so I think fans will be in for a great display of attacking rugby. It’s also a huge opportunity for players to continue to press for selection for the All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad so there will be a lot at stake. It should be a fantastic match.”
Māori All Blacks 2015 matches
- Saturday 11 July v Fiji, ANZ National Stadium, Suva. Kickoff 3pm
- Saturday 18 July v New Zealand Barbarians, Eden Park, Auckland. Kickoff 7.35pm