Auckland, June 15, 2017
Rotorua International Stadium will be tense on Saturday (June 17) when the Maori All Blacks take on the British & Irish Lions.
Head Coach Colin Cooper named his side today to face the Lions in the fifth match of the DHL New Zealand Lions Series.
The team comprises (*denotes new cap): Kane Hames – Tasman (Ngai Tuhoe/Ngati Porou); Ash Dixon (captain) – Hawke’s Bay (Ngati Tahinga); Ben May – Hawke’s Bay (Ngati Maniapoto/Tainui); Joe Wheeler – Tasman (Ngai Tahu); Tom Franklin – Bay of Plenty (Ngati Maniapoto); Akira Ioane – Auckland (Ngapuhi/Te Whanau a Apanui); Elliot Dixon – Southland (Ngapuhi); Liam Messam – Waikato (Ngai Tuhoe); Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Waikato (Waikato/Ngati Maniapoto); Damian McKenzie – Waikato (Ngati Tuwharetoa/Ngati Tahinga); Rieko Ioane – Auckland (Ngapuhi/Te Whanau a Apanui);
Charlie Ngatai – Taranaki (Ngati Porou/Te Whanau a Apanui/Te Whakatohea); Matt Proctor – Wellington (Ngapuhi/Ngaiterangi); Nehe Milner-Skudder – Manawatu (Ngati Porou/Tapuika); James Lowe – Tasman (Ngapuhi/Ngai Te Rangi).
Reserves: Hikawera Elliot – Counties Manukau (Ngati Awa); Chris Eves – Manawatu (Waikato/Tainui); Marcel Renata – Auckland (Ngati Whanaunga/Te Aupouri; Leighton Price – Taranaki (Waikato/Ngati Maniapoto); Kara Pryor – Northland (Ngati Awa/Ngati Pikiao/Ngati Rangitihi); Bryn Hall* – North Harbour (Ngati Ranginui)
Ihaia West – Hawke’s Bay (Ngati Kahungunu/Ngati Porou); Rob Thompson* – Canterbury (Ngati Kahungunu)
Hawke’s Bay’s Ash Dixon will captain the side which features just two new caps in reserves, Bryn Hall and Rob Thompson.
All Blacks included
All Blacks Akira Ioane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Rieko Ioane have been included in the starting line-up, which also features players Cooper said had adapted well to each other and the game plan throughout the week. This included starting Waikato’s Damian McKenzie at first five-eighth.
“We have named a strong group who all have good clarity on how we want to play this match against the Lions. We feel Damian will suit the game plan that we want to play, from the number 10 position,” Cooper said.
He said that he was pleased with the way the players had connected throughout the week.
“We experienced a powerful Powhiri on Monday which really resonated with the boys and it’s been great to be here in Rotorua and feel all the support. It’s really lifted the team and helped bring them together as a unit. We recognise the challenge that is ahead of us on Saturday, but we’re really excited as a group by the opportunity we have to represent New Zealand, Maoridom and the fans that will descend on Rotorua this weekend,” Cooper said.
Sheevas Dayal is our Rugby Correspondent.
Photo Courtesy: allblacks.com