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All time Maori XV

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allblacks.com     05 Jul 2016     Getty Images

There was a lot of debate around each and every position with some great players missing the cut in our team. Let us know who you would select in your line up.

15: George Nepia
George Nepia etched his name in rugby history as a 19-year-old on the All Blacks ‘Invincibles’ 1924-25 tour of Britain, France and Canada. The Hawkes Bay product played in all 30 matches on the undefeated tour, scoring 77 points and thrilling observers with a dynamic running game. He went onto play a pivotal role in the 1930 series victory over the British and Irish Lions before switching to professional rugby league in the UK.

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14: Nehe Milner-Skudder
Virtually unknown before the start of the 2015 Investec Super Rugby season, Nehe Milner-Skudder’s scintillating form on the wing for the Hurricanes resulted in a call up to the All Blacks. The Manawatu flyer quickly made an impact in the black jersey and was one of the stars of the successful 2015 Rugby World Cup. At the showpiece tournament, Milner-Skudder dotted down for six tries and led the tournament’s statistics in metres made and clean breaks.
13: Johnny Smith
Despite being blighted by injuries and playing in an era disrupted by World War 2, mid fielder Johnny Smith is still regarded as one of the great All Black mid-fielders. Across nine matches for the All Blacks from 1946-1949 (including four Tests), Smith was renowned for his speed, stepping ability and knack to set up tries for his outside backs. In 1949, Smith was the first recipient of the Tom French Cup for Maori player of the year. As a leader, Smith captained the All Blacks in a Test match against Australia and led North Auckland to their first Ranfurly Shield victory in 1950.

12: Bill Osborne
Bill Osborne formed one of the great midfield partnerships in New Zealand rugby with Bruce Robertson. While able to play either second five-eighths or centre, Osborne played most of his 16 Tests at second five-eighths. He made his debut in the Water Polo Test against Scotland at Eden Park in 1975 and was a member of the Grand Slam-winning team of 1978 and the 1980 winners over Wales in the Centenary Test.

11: Hosea Gear
With unrivalled power and finishing ability, Hosea Gear was one of the world’s most devastating wingers in his prime. In an All Blacks career spanning from 2008-2012, the Gisborne-born speedster crossed for six tries from his 14 Tests. Along with his brother Rico, they are the only set of brothers to have scored 100 first class tries. There was no shortage of silverware in Gear’s career with a Commonwealth Games sevens gold in 2010 and a Rugby World Cup champion’s medal in 2011.

10: Billy Stead
J.W. 'Billy' Stead captained New Zealand in their first home Test, against Britain, in Wellington in 1904 and was then appointed vice-captain of the Originals. He played a key role in the side's tactical development from first five-eighths. He didn't play in the only loss to Wales, so was never in a losing All Blacks side. He also played against the 1908 Anglo-Wesh. A prolific writer on rugby, he is credited with much of the writing in The Complete Rugby Footballer on the New Zealand System by he and 1905-06 captain Dave Gallaher.

9: Aaron Smith
With a game based on speed, Aaron Smith has transformed the role of the modern day half back since making his All Blacks debut in 2012. The livewire half back ignites back lines with crisp passing and possesses a lethal step to keep opposition defences thinking. Widely regarded as the best halfback in the world, Smith was a key player in the All Blacks Rugby World Cup victory in 2015 and at just 27 years of age, is sure to have many more magic moments in the black jersey.

8: Wayne Shelford (C)
There is perhaps no more pivotal Maori player in New Zealand rugby history than Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford. As a hard running number eight, Shelford made his All Blacks debut in 1986 and played a pivotal role in the inaugural Rugby World Cup success in 1987. Following the World Cup success, Shelford took over the captaincy and led the All Blacks on an unbeaten streak of 31 matches from 1987-1990. One of the things Shelford will be most remembered for is his passionate leading of the haka.
7: Waka Nathan
Waka Nathan revolutionised the role of the loose forward in the 1960s with his dynamic running, shuddering defence and speed to the ruck. Across 23 All Blacks games from 1962-1967 (including 14 Tests), Nathan crossed for 19 tries and regularly breached opposition defences with his electric running. He played in every Test of the four-nil series victory over the Lions in 1966, scoring two tries the third Test. Nathan was also a two time Tom French Memorial Rugby player of the year (1962 and 1966),

6: Zinzan Brooke
One of the most skilful loose forwards to have played for the All Blacks, Zinzan Brooke was equally adept busting through the line with powerful runs, slipping offloads while covered by defenders or slotting drop goals from far out. In an All Blacks career that spanned 58 Tests, Brooke scored 17 tries and slotted three drop goals. Although ‘Zinny’ predominantly played at number eight, his versatility sees him switch to blindside flanker with Wayne Shelford taking back row in this selection.

5: Robin Brooke
The younger brother of Zinzan, Robin was an uncompromising lock who was one of the All Blacks first picks in the mid-1990s. While not as flashy as his older brother, Robin was an efficient line out operator, mobile around the park and very rarely made an error. He was a consummate second rower and the definition of consistency during his 62 Test All Blacks career. As a leader, Robin was the All Blacks vice-captain in 1998 and led the Blues in their 2000 and 2001 Super Rugby campaigns.

4: Tiny Hill
Starting out as a specialist loose forward when first selected for the All Blacks in 1955, S.F. 'Tiny' Hill played three Tests against the 1956 Springboks and then changed to lock in 1957 and continued through until the 1959 series against the Lions. He played 11 Tests between 1955-59 while also representing New Zealand Services and the Maori All Blacks.

3: Kent Lambert
A product of Te Aute College, Kent Lambert was thrown into the deep end as a 20-year-old when replacing Jeff Matheson who suffered broken ribs against Scotland in 1972. It was a time when British scrummaging was extremely powerful but Lambert stood up to it all and went on to play 40 matches and 11 Tests, including the tours to Ireland and Britain in 1974 and South Africa in 1976. After playing in the 1977 series against the Lions he turned to league in 1978.

2: Tane Norton
Canterbury hooker Tane Norton had a tough introduction to Test rugby playing in the 2-1 series loss to the great British and Irish Lions side of 1971. Despite the loss, Norton performed admirably against the Lions and was particularly impressive for his speed around the park. The 1971 series sparked a run of 27 consecutive Test matches for Norton which culminated in him captaining the All Blacks to a series win over the Lions in 1977.

1: Steve McDowall
At his peak, there was no finer loosehead prop in the world than Steve McDowall. The former New Zealand judo representative was noted for his strong scrummaging, uncompromising play in the tight exchanges and surprising turn of speed when in space. He was a key cog in the 1987 Rugby World Cup champion All Blacks team and notched a total of 81 All Blacks matches (46 Tests) from 1985-1992.