Māori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper (Ngāti Pūkenga/Ngāti Porou) has named an experienced squad to play the British & Irish Lions in Rotorua next Saturday.
The 2017 Māori All Blacks Squad for the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is (* denotes new cap):
Chris Eves – North Harbour – Waikato/Tainui (7 appearances)
Kane Hames – Tasman – Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngāti Porou (5)
Mike Kainga – Taranaki – Ngāti Kahungunu (2)
Ben May – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Maniapoto (12)
Marcel Renata – Auckland – Ngāti Whānaunga / Te Aupouri (4)
Ash Dixon (captain) – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Tahinga (8)
Hikawera Elliot – Counties Manukau – Ngāti Awa (9)
Tom Franklin – Otago – Ngāti Maniapoto (4)
Leighton Price – Taranaki – Waikato/Ngāti Maniapoto (3)
Joe Wheeler – Tasman – Ngāi Tahu (2)
Elliot Dixon – Southland – Ngāpuhi (9)
Akira Ioane – Auckland – Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui (5)
Liam Messam – Waikato – Ngāti Maniapoto (12)
Reed Prinsep – Canterbury – Te Rārawa (2)
Kara Pryor – Northland – Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāti Rangitihi (2)
Bryn Hall* – North Harbour – Ngāti Ranginui
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi* – Taranaki – Ngāti Pikiao
Otere Black – Manawatu – Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa (4)
Ihaia West – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Porou (7)
Tim Bateman – Canterbury – Ngāi Tahu (12)
Charlie Ngatai – Taranaki – Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Te Whakatōhea (9)
Matt Proctor – Wellington – Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi (9)
Rob Thompson* – Canterbury – Ngāti Kahungunu
James Lowe – Tasman – Ngāpuhi/Ngāi Te Rangi (5)
Damian McKenzie – Waikato – Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tahinga (3)
Nehe Milner-Skudder – Manawatu – Ngāti Porou/Tapuika (2)
Declan O’Donnell – Taranaki – Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Porou (1)
Coaching and management team
Head Coach – Colin Cooper – Ngāti Pūkenga/Ngāti Porou
Assistant Coach – Tana Umaga
Set-piece Coach – Carl Hoeft
Manager – Tony Ward
Kaumatua – Luke Crawford – Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Porou
Media Manager – Hannah Fleming – Te Atiawa/Ngati Te Whiti
Doctor – Zig Khouri
Physiotherapist – Ash Draper
Strength and Conditioning coach – Brad Anderson – Ngāpuhi
Analyst – Jayson Ross – Ngāti Kahungunu
Logisitics/Massage – Paul Minehan
Announced in Auckland this afternoon by Māori Rugby Board Chair, Dr 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.
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.