Auckland - The Maori All Blacks squad to play in the USA, Brazil and Chile for their end of year tour, was confirmed on Tuesday.
Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan told the All Blacks’ official website that the selections for the 27-strong squad had been complex but exciting with some players already named for All Blacks duty in Japan.
Five players in Japan with the All Blackswill later join the Maori All Blacks tour for the South American leg. They are prop Tyrel Lomax, lock Jackson Hemopo, halfback Bryn Hall, midfielder Matt Proctor and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder.
The Maori All Blacks will travel with 28 players to Chicago, including Canterbury’s Caleb Makene who will return to New Zealand after the USA match.
McMillan said the departure of some experienced players offshore, and dual duties with the All Blacks, created an opportunity for several new faces.
“We’re looking at almost 10 debutants which you would expect after some players have moved on,” he said.
“Some of these debutants have had incredibly strong seasons with their provinces in Mitre 10 Cup, and their Super Rugby clubs, so we are excited to see what they will bring on this tour.”
There are nine new faces in the squad; hooker Robbie Abel, locks Isaia Walker-Leawere and giant Pari Pari Parkinson (who stands at 2.04m), loose forwards Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon, and Mitchell Karpik, flyhalf Joshua Ioane, inside centre Matthew Lansdown and outside centre Jonah Lowe.
“Josh Ioane was with the Highlanders, and with Otago he demonstrates he is at the forefront of all the action, including playing an integral role in Otago’s successful Ranfurly Shield challenge, and, like Otere (Black) who has been strong for Manawatu, he is very accurate with his goal-kicking.
“Pari Pari has to be the tallest lock running around in New Zealand rugby at the moment and he’s been a stand out for Tasman.
“We’ve got a great mix in the loose forwards - including the experienced Reed Prinsep and Akira Ioane who will bring explosive power to the loose forward mix. Along with the new guys (Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon and Mitchell Karpik) they’re a young group but they’ve got some physicality.”
McMillan said they were looking forward to Chicago, the second time the Maori All Blacks have played there, but the coach’s first taste of USA rugby.
“We’re expecting USA to be our toughest game on tour although I have no doubt Brazil and Chile will be challenging for their own reasons. Rugby has been growing in all three countries, so there is an element of the unknown which is always hard to predict.
“It’s also nice to know that we will be with the Black Ferns. I’m sure it will be a nicer experience for everyone and having the two teams staying in the same hotel will help to create some positive energy.”
With several players still with their teams in the Mitre 10 Cup Finals, the Maori All Blacks squad will assemble gradually next week with players joining the squad as they are released from provincial duties.
The squad is assembling next week in the Bay of Plenty before their departure from Auckland International Airport next Sunday (October 28).The Maori All Blacks squad (with Iwi/tribe and Province) for the tour is (*denotes uncapped):
Chris Eves (Waikato / Tainui North) - Harbour
Tyrel Lomax (Ngai Tuhoe / Muaupoko) - Tasman
Ben May (Ngati Maniapoto / Waikato) - Hawke’s Bay
Marcel Renata (Ngati Whanaunga / Ngai Takoto) - Auckland
Ross Wright (Ngati Whatua / Ngati Porou) - Northland
Robbie Abel * (Ngati Wai, Waikato-Tainui, Ngati Hine) - Auckland
Ash Dixon (captain) (Ngati Tahinga) - Hawke’s Bay
Jackson Hemopo (Tuhourangi / Ngati Wahiao / Ngai Tahu / Ngati Rangi / Ngati Apa ki te Ra To) - Manawatu
Pari Pari Parkinson * (Te Whanau a Apanui) - Tasman
Isaia Walker-Leawere * (Ngati Porou) - Wellington
Billy Harmon * (Ngai Tahu) - Canterbury
Akira Ioane (Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui) - Auckland
Mitchell Karpik * (Rongomaiwahine / Ngati Kahungunu) - Bay of Plenty
Hoani Matenga * (Rangitane / Te Whanau a Apanui) - Bay of Plenty
Reed Prinsep (Te Rarawa) - Canterbury
Bryn Hall (Ngati Ranginui) North Harbour
Jonathan Ruru (Ngati Kahungunu / Rongomaiwahine) - Auckland
Brad Weber (Ngati Porou) - Hawke’s Bay
Otere Black (Ngai Tuhoe / Te Whanau a Apanui / Ngati Tuwharetoa) - Manawatu
Joshua Ioane* (Te Rarawa) - Otago
Matthew Lansdown* (Te Atiawa) - Waikato
Matt Proctor (Ngai Te Rangi / Ngapuhi) - Wellington
Rob Thompson (Ngati Kahungunu / Nga Rauru) - Manawatu
Teihorangi Walden (Te Atiawa) - Taranaki
Jonah Lowe* (Ngati Pikiao) - Hawke’s Bay
Nehe Milner-Skudder (Ngati Porou / Tapuika) - Manawatu
Shaun Stevenson (Ngapuhi) - North Harbour
Travelling as a replacement for the USA leg only, is Canterbury wing Caleb Makene, of Ngapuhi descent.
Maori All Blacks match schedule:
Soldier Field, Chicago, USA
Saturday, November 3
Estadio Do Morumbi, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Saturday, November 10
Estadio San Carlos De Apoquindo, Las Condes, Chile
Saturday, November 17