Six players who started against the United States on Thursday have been retained in the New Zealand Maori team’s starting line-up for its second Churchill Cup match, against Ireland in San Francisco on Sunday morning (NZ time).
Locks Paul Tito and Kristian Ormsby, Liam Messam who moves from the openside flank to No 8, halfback Chris Smylie, centre Richard Kahui and fullback Shannon Paku have been included in the starting line up again.
Jono Gibbes will captain the team.
New Zealand Maori coach Donny Stevenson said the short turnaround of matches meant it was important to keep players fresh.
“We have three days between games so it is important that we give everyone a run and rotate players. From what we know of Ireland, they are well organised in defence and their set pieces are good so we are expecting a good battle,” Stevenson said.
Meanwhile, Bay of Plenty’s Warren Smith will replace Wellington’s Ross Filipo, who injured his knee in the win against the United States on Thursday.
Smith, who was part of the winning team at the Churchill Cup in 2004, will join the team in San Francisco on Saturday.
New Zealand Maori team to play Ireland A: 1. Joe McDonnell, 2. Scott Linklater, 3. Deacon Manu, 4. Kristian Ormsby, 5. Paul Tito, 6. Jono Gibbes (captain), 7. Tanerau Latimer, 8. Liam Messam, 9. Chris Smylie, 10. Callum Bruce, 11. Hosea Gear, 12. Neil Brew, 13. Richard Kahui, 14. Anthony Tahana, 15. Shannon Paku.
Reserves: 16. Luke Mahoney, 17. Mike Noble, 18. Thomas Waldrom, 19. Jake Paringatai, 20. Corey Tamou, 21. Matt Berquist, 22. Cory Jane.
The game kicks off at 2.30pm Saturday US time. TV3 will broadcast the match delayed at 12.00pm on Sunday.