Cape Town - Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan has made four
changes to his run-on side with two players set to make their debut
against the French Barbarians in Bordeaux on Saturday.
Bay of Plenty captain Keepa Mewett will make his debut starting at
number five while Sam Henwood will start at openside flank. Jackson
Garden-Bachop and Shaun Stevenson both move into starting positions at
10 and 11, respectively.
Scrumhalf 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
(Mitre 10 Cup) 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 Mitre 10 Cup 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
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
“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
Substitutes: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Tyrel
Lomax, 19 Jordan Manihera, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Ihaia
West, 23 Teihorangi Walden