Canada team to face NZ Maori named     24 May 2007

Fairhurst, 28, replaces Morgan Williams as one of eight changes to the Canadian side following last weekend's opening defeat to Ireland A.

"I've acted as captain before but only when I have come on from the reserve bench to replace Morgan. This is my first time as skipper at the start of a game and I'm thrilled to be asked to captain the side," said Fairhurst, who hails from Victoria, BC.

Canada gave the Irish second string a tough test last Saturday night, rallying from 17-6 down to take the lead shortly after half-time before eventually falling to a 39-20 defeat.

But the Canadians have been working with Wales' 2005 Grand Slam defence coach Clive Griffiths ahead of Friday's encounter with the defending Churchill Cup champions.

Head coach Ric Suggitt explained: "The Maori will be a step up from the Ireland A side we played in Exeter. But we have put in some hard work, looked at videos of the game and have had defensive coach Clive Griffiths, who worked with us in Exeter, come back and analyse our play and help rectify problems.

"It's all about improving and learning and to have coaches of his calibre help us is very rewarding."

Griffiths is heading to Guinness Premiership club Worcester next season to link up with former Wales supremo Mike Ruddock but was asked to help out by Geraint John, the ex-Cardiff coach now Rugby Canada's high-performance director.

Suggitt has made five changes in the Canada pack, recalling Glasgow loose-head prop Kevin Tkachuk and former Wales Under-21 lock Luke Tait.

Tkachuk will pack down with fellow Saskatchewan native Scott Franklin for the first time in a game for Canada.

In a new back row, West Vancouver's Mike Webb starts at open-side flanker after Colin Yukes was recalled to his French club side Agen, while Vancouver's David Biddle starts at number eight with Adam Kleeberger on the blind-side.

Fairhurst will be partnered behind the scrum by Waterloo first five-eighths Ander Monro, who made his Canada debut in last year's Churchill Cup, while Derek Daypuck comes into the midfield.

The try-scorers against Ireland A - centre Craig Culpan and winger Dean van Camp - keep their places in the team, while Bedford's James Pritchard continues on the wing.

Canada have played the New Zealand Maori twice before, in 2003, and lost both times - 65-27 in Calgary and 30-9 in Toronto.