The 2016 Maori All Blacks squad has been announced, featuring four Blues players in the line-up and two Blues coaches in the coaching team.
Billy Guyton, Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor and Ihaia West have been named in the 26-man side, announced today by New Zealand Rugby Maori Board acting chairman Peter Goldsmith. Also included is Blues Head Coach Tana Umaga who was announced as assistant coach last month, as well as Blues assistant physio Ash Draper who will be the chief physio on the northern tour.
The 2016 Maori All Blacks squad is (with * to denote new cap):
Leni Apisa – Wellington – Ngati Awa
Tim Bateman – Canterbury – Ngai Tahu
Otere Black – Manawatu – Ngai Tuhoe / Te Whanau a Apanui / Ngati Tuwharetoa
Shane Christie – Tasman – Te Ati Haunui a Paparangi / Ngati Kurawhatia
Ash Dixon (c) – Hawkes Bay – Ngati Tahinga
Whetu Douglas – Waikato – Ngati Porou / Ngati Whakaue
Jason Emery – Manawatu – Ngati Haua / Ngati Maniapoto
Chris Eves – Manawatu – Waikato / Tainui
Tom Franklin – Otago – Ngati Maniapoto
Billy Guyton – Tasman – Ngapuhi / Ngati Pikiao / Ngati Raukawa
Kane Hames – Tasman – Ngai Tuhoe / Ngati Porou
Akira Ioane – Auckland – Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui
Mike Kainga – Taranaki – Ngati Kahungunu
James Lowe – Tasman – Ngapuhi / Ngai Te Rangi
Ben May – Hawkes Bay – Ngati Maniapoto
Marty McKenzie – Taranaki – Ngati Tuwharetoa / Ngati Tahinga
Leighton Price – Taranaki – Waikato / Ngati Maniapoto
Reed Prinsep – Canterbury – Te Rarawa
Matt Proctor – Wellington – Ngai Te Rangi / Ngapuhi
Kara Pryor – Northland – Ngati Awa / Ngati Pikiao / Ngati Rangitihi
Marcel Renata – Auckland – Ngati Whanaunga / Te Aupouri
Joe Royal – Bay of Plenty – Te Arawa / Ngati Whatua o Orakei / Ngapuhi
Jacob Skeen – Waikato – Ngapuhi
Sean Wainui – Taranaki – Ngai Tuhoe / Te Aitanga a Mahaki / Nga Arikikaiputahi / Ngati Porou
Brad Weber – Hawkes Bay – Ngati Porou
Ihaia West – Hawkes Bay – Ngati Kahungunu / Ngati Porou
Maori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper (Ngati Pukenga/Ngati Porou) congratulated all those selected.
“This is an exciting time for all those involved in this special team.Maori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper (Ngati Pukenga/Ngati Porou) congratulated all those selected.
“We’re delighted with the squad we have announced today – we think there’s an incredible mix of experience and very wise heads, and a special crop of new talent that has been exciting to watch in action in Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup.
“This team continues to be an important opportunity for players looking to push for higher honours.
“We are particularly delighted for Rieko Ioane who was named for the first time with the All Blacks on Sunday – and he joins several Maori All Blacks who have earned a call up to the All Blacks in recent years – Nehe Milner Skudder, Codie Taylor, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Joe Moody, Brad Weber, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire, Damian McKenzie and last year’s skipper Charlie Ngatai currently unavailable due to concussion.”
Ash Dixon will take over from Charlie Ngatai in the captain’s role.
“We continue to work closely with the All Blacks coaches to ensure that we are aligned and these selections demonstrate the strength of the Maori All Blacks as a high performance team.”
“It’s also good that both teams are in Chicago and the United Kingdom at the same time, so that we can retain that alignment,” Cooper said.
“We are looking forward to heading to Chicago to play the USA Eagles. Playing any national side is an honour, and they’re a team that’s really cementing their place in international rugby.”
“Our matches against Munster and Harlequins will also be very special as we love taking the Maori All Blacks’ style of rugby to other countries.”
Five players still involved in Mitre 10 Cup Finals will join the squad in Auckland after their matches this weekend.
The squad flies out on Sunday night.
Maori All Blacks 2016 Match schedule
Friday 4 November v USA Eagles, Toyota Park, Chicago
Friday 11 November v Munster, Thomond Park, Limerick
Wednesday 16 November v Harlequins, Twickenham Stoop, London
Maori All Blacks pre-departure schedule
Wednesday: The Maori All Blacks assemble (except those involved in Mitre 10 Cup Finals matches) in Auckland, tomorrow, Wednesday 27 October.
Saturday: 1:30pm – Clarity run – vision and media opportunity, Blues rugby base
Sunday: 12.00pm – Vision opportunity at team photo session
11:10pm – Team flies out of Auckland Airport – NZ2
Coaching and management team
Head Coach – Colin Cooper – Ngati Pukenga / Ngati Porou
Assistant Coach – Tana Umaga
Set Piece Coach – Carl Hoeft
Manager – Tony Ward
Kaumatua – Luke Crawford – Ngati Tuwharetoa / Ngati Porou
Doctor – Zig Khouri
Physiotherapist – Ash Draper
Strength & Conditioning Coach – Brad Anderson – Ngapuhi
Analyst – Jayson Ross – Ngati Kahungunu
Logistics/Masseur – Paul Minehan