The Maori All Blacks team has been named to play Manu Samoa under Covid Alert Level 2 at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Saturday 26 June
Six representatives from the Bay of Plenty have been included in the squad for the game, which will be played behind closed doors due to the recent Covid-19 scare in the capital.
Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Otere Black, Sean Wainui, Kaleb Trask and Kurt Eklund have all been included in the squad.
Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan has named an exciting blend of experience and rising young talent with the selection of two debuting Maori All Blacks on the bench, Ngai Tahu lock Josh Dickson and Ngapuhi loose forward Jacob Norris.
The Maori All Blacks starting pack features an experienced front row of loosehead prop Pouri Rakete-Stones, tighthead prop Josh Hohneck and Kapene Ash Dixon at hooker. Blues hooker Kurt Eklund alongside fellow teammate, tighthead prop Marcel Renata and Crusaders Rookie of the Year Tamaiti Williams will provide impact off the bench.
Locking duo of Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Isaia Walker-Leawere will start, with Highlanders and Otago lock Dickson to debut off the bench. A formidable Canterbury loose forward combination of Reed Prinsep and Billy Harmon will take the field in jerseys six and seven respectively, with Norris set to debut off the bench. Whetukamokamo Douglas starts at number eight to round out the forward pack.
In the backs, Bryn Hall and Otere Black will combine at nine and ten. Halfback Sam Nock and first-five eighth Josh Ioane will ably provide cover on the bench. An exciting midfield combination of Alex Nankivell and Billy Proctor with start at 12 and 13.
An electrifying Chiefs back three of Sean Wainui on the left wing, Shaun Stevenson on the right, at Kaleb Trask at fullback will start with teammate Jonah Lowe to be injected off the bench.
Maori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan says: “We are anticipating a competitive challenge from our Samoan brothers on Saturday. They are a physical team, with a threatening attack. We know they would have prepared well and will be excited for the challenge ahead.”
“It will be a great opportunity for us to showcase Māori rugby. We have an experienced and talented group of individuals who are continuing to push for higher honours. This is their opportunity to put their hand up.”
“It will be a really proud moment for Josh and Jacob to not only represent this team, but their whānau and their iwi,” says McMillan.
It has been 28 years since the Maori All Blacks last played in Wellington, when they hosted the British and Irish Lions in 1993 at Athletic Park. McMillan says the team are excited to take the field in Wellington once more.
“While this week has had its challenges, we have continued to prepare well and there is some excitement among the team to play in Wellington. We are obviously disappointed we are unable to perform in front of our whānau and pa, but we still want to deliver a performance they can be proud of,” McMillan concludes.
The matchday 23 is as follows (Province/Super Rugby Club, and Iwi in brackets).
• Pouri RaketeStones (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāpuhi)
• Ash Dixon (Kāpene) © (Hawke’s Bay/Highlanders/Ngāti Tahinga)
• Josh Hohneck (Otago/Highlanders/ Ngāti Manuhiri /Ngāti Whātua)
• Manaaki SelbyRickit (Bay of Plenty/Highlanders/Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
• Isaia WalkerLeawere (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāti Porou)
• Reed Prinsep (Canterbury/Hurricanes/Te Rārawa)
• Billy Harmon (Canterbury/Highlanders/Ngāi Tahu)
• Whetukamokamo Douglas (Bay of Plenty/Crusaders/ Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue)
• Bryn Hall (North Harbour/Crusaders/ Ngāti Ranginui)
• Otere Black (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
• Sean Wainui (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngā Arikikaiputahi/Ngāti Porou)
• Alex Nankivell (Tasman/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
• Billy Proctor (Wellington/Hurricanes/Ngai Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi)
• Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
• Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
• Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāti Kahu)
• Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury/Ngāpuhi)
• Marcel Renata (Auckland/Blues/ Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāi Takoto)
• Josh Dickson (Otago/Highlanders/Ngāi Tahu)
• Jacob Norris (Tasman/Ngāpuhi)
• Sam Nock (Northland/Blues/Ngāpuhi)
• Josh Ioane (Otago/Highlanders/Te Rārawa)
• Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay/Chiefs/Ngāti Pikiao)