Māori All Blacks determined to go two from two against Ireland

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Despite little time together, the Māori All Blacks scored a memorable 32-17 victory over Ireland on June 29 in Hamilton. They are determined to repeat the dose at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday.

 

Wing Shaun Stevenson (Ngāpuhi) hadn’t played a game of rugby since he appeared for the Chiefs against Moana Pasifika in Super Rugby Pacific on April 16. He appears to be well and truly over a knee injury, scoring a cracking try and making a number of breaks.

 

“It’s always nice running out with the Hamilton crowd behind you, they’re a vocal crowd. The rain fell away before kick off which was nice. I was lucky enough to get a meat pie,” Stevenson said.

 

“We hadn’t played Ireland before so all we had to go off were clips in the Six Nations. It was nice to get the ball to the outside. There was some room on the edges. Māori rugby is about having a go.”

 

The Māori All Blacks paid their respects to former teammate, Sean Wainui in Hamilton last week. Stevenson and Wainui were teammates at the Chiefs. A presentation of an Irish jersey to the Wainui whānau before kickoff had the Māori All Blacks in a focused and ruthless mood.

 

“It was pretty emotional, the boys were fired up to give Seany boy, Paige, and his little ones a good haka. It was nice to have everyone there and put on a performance he would be proud of.”

 

 

The Māori All Blacks scored all their points in the first-half. Stevenson was stoked with their strong start.

 

“We deserved to be up by that much. It was a question of how we were going to keep playing. The Irish turned things around but our defence was great. We were hustling real hard.

 

“Their short ball passing was outstanding. They took it to the line with their big forwards, getting it out the back. We’ll have to tighten up our ruck defence as they’ll present different pictures.” 

 

Assistant coach Chris Gibbes (Tainui) played for Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, and Thames Valley. His brother Jono Gibbes was an All Black flanker who captained the Māori All Blacks to one of their most famous wins - a 19-13 success over the British and Irish Lions in 2005. Chris has used his brothers’ example as an inspiration in this campaign. 

 

“Jono said the Māori are one of the greatest teams he’s played for. The rugby side of things is important but understanding Tikanga, Whakapapa, and the responsibility to uphold that is equally important.”

Chris Gibbes

 

Gibbes said they weren't surprised by what Ireland brought in Hamilton.

 

“We knew what the Irish were going to bring and we dealt with it well from a preparation perspective which may have surprised them a bit. We knew they were going to use their set piece to get in the game, use their big men. We put them under pressure and capitalised with some skill.

 

“We weren't able to get across the line in that second half but what we did do well was we were very brave and had a lot of courage around our defence. We want to keep applying our game and get a bit more out of that second half as we did in that first half."

 

It’s one hundred years since the Māori All Blacks first played in Wellington. On August 19, 1922, they played the All Blacks at Athletic Park and were beaten 21-14. All Blacks wings William ‘Jockey’ Ford and Jack Steel were elusive, each scoring two tries. Matiu Love (Koroua of current Māori All Black Ruben Love) featured in the game.

 

The last time the Māori All Blacks played in Wellington was on June 26, 2021 when they beat Samoa 35-10 in atrocious conditions at Sky Stadium. 

 

The Māori All Blacks have won 80 of their 126 international fixtures, including both fixtures against Ireland in 2010 (31-28) and 2022 (32-17). 

 

Māori All Blacks Internationals in Wellington

1921: All Blacks, 14-21

1929: All Blacks, 18-37

1930: British & Irish Lions, 13-19

1950: British & Irish Lions, 9-14

1951: Fiji, 14-21

1952: All Blacks, 22-28

1957: Fiji, 13-36

1965: South Africa, 3-9

1974: Fiji, 39-25

1993: British & Irish Lions, 20-24

2021: Samoa, 35-10

 

The Māori All Blacks v Ireland series is presented by Chemist Warehouse. Catch all the action live on Sky Sport on Tuesday 12 July, with kick off at 7.05pm. Tickets are still available and one kid goes for free with every paying adult. Get your tickets HERE.

 

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