NZ Maori squad named for Sealord Centenary Series     31 May 2010    

The squad is (province and iwi):

Ben Afeaki * North Harbour Ngati Awa
Colin Bourke * Bay of Plenty Ngati Wairere
Stephen Brett Canterbury Ngapuhi
Dane Coles * Wellington Ngati Porou
Jacob Ellison Wellington Ngati Porou
Corey Flynn Canterbury Kai Tahu
Hosea Gear Wellington Ngati Porou
Romana Graham * Waikato Ngati Awa
Jarrad Hoeata Taranaki Ngati Kahungunu
Tanerau Latimer Bay of Plenty Tapuika
Karl Lowe * Hawke’s Bay Ngati Kahungunu
Sean Maitland * Canterbury Ngapuhi
Luke McAlister North Harbour Te Atiawa
Liam Messam ( c ) Waikato Ngai Tuhoe
Bronson Murray Northland Ngapuhi
Clint Newland Hawke’s Bay Ngati Kahungunu
Daniel Ramsey * Wellington Kai Tahu
Willie Ripia* Taranaki Ngai Tuhoe
Robbie Robinson * Southland Ngati Tuwharetoa
Isaac Ross Canterbury Ngati Kahungunu
Aaron Smith * Manawatu Ngati Kahungunu
Chris Smylie North Harbour Ngati Mutunga
Dwayne Sweeney Waikato Ngati Mahanga
Andre Taylor* Manawatu Ngati Tuwharetoa
Hayden Triggs Otago Ngati Kahungunu
Jackson Willison* Waikato Ngati Mahuta

Note: * denotes New Zealand Maori debutant
This year’s Sealord Centenary Series will celebrate 100 years of the New Zealand Maori rugby team and to honour the anniversary, the 2010 team will play a three-match series including internationals against Ireland in Rotorua and England in Napier, with the first game of the series against the New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei.

Captaining the team will be Chiefs loose forward Liam Messam, who co-captained the side to Pacific Nations Cup success in 2008.

Key features of the squad include the naming of 12 players who make their New Zealand Maori debut, including two players who have not yet played Rebel Sport Super 14 rugby - 21-year-old Manawatu halfback Aaron Smith and 25-year-old Wellington lock Daniel Ramsey. Four of the new players made their Super Rugby debuts this year: Highlanders utility back Robbie Robinson, Chiefs lock Romana Graham and his Super Rugby team-mates, loose forward Jarrad Hoeata and prop Ben Afeaki.

The squad also features players who have experienced success in the New Zealand Maori jersey including Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn, who first played for the side in 2002 and captained them to Churchill Cup success in 2004, and Hurricanes winger Hosea Gear, who first turned out for the team in 2004.

New Zealand Maori Coach Jamie Joseph, who is a former New Zealand Maori player, said it was exciting to have a mix of experienced players and new faces for what was a significant year for Maori rugby.

“It is a special honour and rare privilege to play for the Maori team and will be especially meaningful in this year of celebration and I would like to congratulate those players picked in the squad for the first time,” he said.

“We are lucky to have a lot of experience in the team and they will ensure that those new players are quickly brought up to speed. We have a fantastic programme including two major matches against Ireland and England. They will be challenging games and will give players the chance to really make their mark and play the style of rugby the New Zealand Maori side is famous for,” he added.

The New Zealand Maori team will assemble in Auckland on Monday 7 June before departing for Whanagrei the following day.