The 28-man squad includes 11 new caps and three experienced All Blacks in TJ Perenara, Brad Weber and Tyrel Lomax.
The squad was unveiled by Māori Rugby Board member and former Māori All Blacks and All Blacks loose forward Arran Pene at a special Hamilton Boys’ High School assembly.
Having not played a Tier 1 side since the British & Irish Lions series in 2017, McMillan is ecstatic about the upcoming series with Ireland.
“The Māori team is always grateful to have a programme and we have played some really proud teams over the last five to six years, but we have been desperate to test ourselves against a Tier 1 nation and with the Irish coming out here to play the All Blacks and a couple of midweek games, it doesn’t get much better.”
The Māori All Blacks last played Ireland in 2010 in Rotorua, where the home side came away with a 31-28 victory. McMillan sees this series as a huge opportunity.
“They [Ireland] have shown an immense amount of growth in recent years. They’ve tested the All Blacks and I couldn’t think of a better way to showcase Māori rugby and to expose some great young players to this level of the game. To test ourselves against one of the best.”
The announcement at Hamilton Boys’ High School was a special occasion for new cap Josh Moorby and Chiefs midfielder Rameka Poihipi, who are both former students. Poihipi captained the 1st XV and they both attended the boarding school together for a few years.
The prestigious rugby school has produced 13 Māori All Blacks and McMillan said it was a privilege to have the squad named there.
“Hamilton Boys’ is a school that is synonymous with producing great young men and also great young rugby players. They have probably been the standout rugby team, national champions numerous times over the last 10 to 15 years.
“It’s appropriate that when we are playing the game here in Hamilton that we come to a school with a great record of producing top level talent in All Blacks, Māori All Blacks and Super Rugby players. It’s great that some players who were recent members of the school get to come back and be named in the Māori All Blacks.”
The Māori All Blacks first match against Ireland is on Wednesday 29 June at FMG Stadium Waikato, with the second match to take place on Tuesday 12 July at Sky Stadium in Wellington. Get your tickets HERE.