3 Blues players named in Maori All Blacks side

3 Blues players named in Maori All Blacks side

Three Blues players have been named in the Maori All Blacks team to take on the USA in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Luke Braid and Jamison Gibson-Park are included in the starting XV, while Jackson Willison is on the bench.
Blues halfback Piri Weepu was forced to return home to New Zealand earlier this week with a knee injury.
The side features six changes to the starting XV from the team that beat Canada 40-15 in the opening match of the North American Tour. Ash Dixon comes into the side to replace the injured Hika Elliot with Shane Christie and Blade Thomson also joining the forwards.
The backline has been reshuffled with Ihaia West earning a starting spot at first five and Kurt Baker and Matt Proctor coming onto the wings.
The second and last match of the tour kicks off at 7pm ET (1pm NZT Sunday 10 November) and is broadcast live on SKY and delayed on Maori Television at 3.30pm.
Starting XV:
1.Kane Hames
2.Ash Dixon
3.Ben Afeaki
4.Jarrad Hoeata
5.Joe Wheeler
6.Shane Christie
7.Luke Braid
8.Blade Thomson*
9.Jamison Gibson-Park
10.Ihaia West
11.Matt Proctor
12.Tim Bateman (capt)
13.Charlie Ngatai
14.Kurt Baker
15.Robbie Robinson
Reserves
16.Joe Royal*
17.Chris Eves
18.Nick Barrett
19.Luke Katene*
20.Elliot Dixon
21.Chris Smylie
22.Jackson Willison
23.Zac Guildford
*new cap
Coach Colin Cooper said he was really happy with the way team has come together and the number of changes reflected the depth in the squad.
ìWe are rewarding players that have all had great ITM seasons. Our challenge now is to continue working hard on getting our attacking and defence systems in place. We know USA will provide another tough match and we have huge respect for them.
ìLosing Hika and Piri has robbed off of some experience, but Ash Dixon equipped himself really well when he came on and Jamison played extremely well given the short notice he had to join the starting XV.
ìWe have trained hard and enjoyed the warmer conditions in Philadelphia so I think we are in good shape to deliver the kind of game we want to play on Saturday. We certainly want to end the tour on a high note and are really looking forward to playing in front of American fans.î†
A capacity 18,500 crowd is expected at PPL Park and conditions are expected to be dry and sunny for Saturday’s match with a maximum of 15 degrees forecast.