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20 Feb 2018 17:01
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby

    New-look Maori All Blacks named for tour

    Coach Clayton McMillan is forced to introduce numerous new faces to his Maori All Blacks squad to tour Canada and France.


    Ten new caps are included in a raw-looking Maori All Blacks squad named for their two-match northern hemisphere tour.

    New coach Clayton McMillan has been forced to probe for depth after several first choice players were ruled out by injury or selection for the All Blacks.

    Seven forwards and three backs haven't played previously for the Maori side, winning inclusion in the initial squad unveiling of 25 players. Two further players will be added.

    A match against Canada in Vancouver on November 3 is followed by a clash with a French Barbarians team in Bordeaux on November 10.

    The latter match falls four days out from the All Blacks' midweek match against a France XV in Lyon, potentially putting some of McMillan's players in contention if gaps are needed to be filled in the national side.

    Just four players who started in the Maori All Blacks' 32-10 loss to the British and Irish Lions in Hamilton in June have been included. They are captain Ash Dixon, lock Tom Franklin, No.8 Akira Ioane and midfield back Charlie Ngatai.

    McMillan is blessed with midfield back options, having named five such players with Super Rugby experience. However, the only outside back specialist named is Manawatu flyer Ambrose Curtis.

    Those selected for the first time are props Ross Wright and Tyrel Lomax, hooker Liam Polwart, locks Jackson Hemopo and Keepa Mewett, loose forwards Sam Henwood and Jordan Manihera, halfback Jonathan Ruru, first five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop and midfield back Teihorangi Walden.

    Interest will surround the form of former Melbourne Rebels front-rower Tyrel Lomax, the son of former Kiwis league prop John Lomax.

    The 21-year-old has committed to New Zealand rugby by signing a two-year contract with the Highlanders.

    Nine players with Super Rugby experience listed as unavailable because of injury are Otere Black, Namatahi Waa, Ben May, Matt Proctor, Jacob Skeen, Kara Pryor, Leighton Price, Elliot Dixon and Bryn Hall.

    McMillan says most of his squad have displayed strong NPC form but admits they will lean on the experience of a handful of players to show the way.

    "We are fortunate to have Ash Dixon return as captain; he is the heart of our pack and his leadership, both on and off the field, steers the team's special character," he said.

    Maori All Blacks squad:

    Backs: Ambrose Curtis, Sean Wainui, Charlie Ngatai, Teihorangi Walden, Rob Thompson, Tim Bateman, Ihaia West, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jonathan Ruru.

    Forwards: Akira Ioane, Jordan Manihera, Sam Henwood, Dan Pryor, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Jarrad Hoeata, Keepa Mewett, Chris Eves, Ross Wright, Marcel Renata, Tyrel Lomax, Ash Dixon (capt), Liam Polwart.


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