McAlister raring to go for NZ Maori clash

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NZPA     11 Jun 2010     Getty Images

McAlister has had limited chances on the field this year, spending relatively few minutes on the field for the Blues during Super 14 for a variety of reasons, including injury and form.

He had hoped to get some extra game time in club rugby between the end of the Rebel Sport Super 14 and New Zealand Maori's clash with the New Zealand Barbarians tomorrow in Whangarei but the injury got in his way.

"I got through half a game last week but then I had back spasms and that put me out for a week," McAlister said.

"But everything's right now. Any rugby player that's been injured just wants to get back on the track and get through 80 minutes and see what happens from there."

McAlister, who faces an intriguing match-up tomorrow against Ben Smith, better known as a winger, is one of a number of players hoping to push their All Blacks claims in New Zealand Maori's matches this month.

"I've got to perform well in these Maori games and then maybe I'm in with a shot," McAlister said.
"But my focus is the Maori team and getting game time and see what happens from there. I can't look too far ahead."

Coach Jamie Joseph says the players regard the Maori team as very important but he's sure several players also have national honours in mind.

"All individual players and management have got their added incentives to do the best they can and that's no different for our players," Joseph said.
"There's some disappointed players here that missed out on the All Blacks and I guess the best way to show the selectors that they've made a mistake is by playing really well, so I'm sure that's in the back of their minds as well."

Joseph said he expected the team's cultural connections would help compensate for a relatively short build-up to the clash with the New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei.

They were becoming immersed in Maori culture, and the team members were also given a quick history presentation to help put the team's achievements in the past 100 years in context.

"We had a presentation on Monday about the history of the Maori All Blacks and the players that have gone before us," McAlister said.

"They singled out a lot of players like George Nepia, Sid Going, Bill Bush, and had a little bit of a spiel on those players and what they'd done for the jersey. Knowing a lot of what's gone before us makes it that much better when you put the jersey on."

New Zealand Maori will follow the Barbarians match with clashes against Ireland in Rotorua on June 18 and England in Napier on June 23.