- Two debutants named
- Māori All Blacks first test in Wellington since 1993
The matchday 23 is as follows (Province/Super Rugby Club, and Iwi in brackets, debutants in bold).
1. Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāpuhi)
2. Ash Dixon (Kāpene) © (Hawke’s Bay/Highlanders/Ngāti Tahinga)
3. Josh Hohneck (Otago/Highlanders/ Ngāti Manuhiri /Ngāti Whātua)
4. Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Bay of Plenty/Highlanders/Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāti Porou)
6. Reed Prinsep (Canterbury/Hurricanes/Te Rārawa)
7. Billy Harmon (Canterbury/Highlanders/Ngāi Tahu)
8. Whetukamokamo Douglas (Bay of Plenty/Crusaders/ Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue)
9. Bryn Hall (North Harbour/Crusaders/ Ngāti Ranginui)
10. Otere Black (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
11. Sean Wainui (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngā Arikikaiputahi/Ngāti Porou)
12. Alex Nankivell (Tasman/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
13. Billy Proctor (Wellington/Hurricanes/Ngai Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi)
14. Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
15. Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
16. Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāti Kahu)
17. Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury/Ngāpuhi)
18. Marcel Renata (Auckland/Blues/ Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāi Takoto)
19. Josh Dickson (Otago/Highlanders/Ngāi Tahu)
20. Jacob Norris (Tasman/Ngāpuhi)
21. Sam Nock (Northland/Blues/Ngāpuhi)
22. Josh Ioane (Otago/Highlanders/Te Rārawa)
23. Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay/Chiefs/Ngāti Pikiao)
Unavailable for selection:
Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman/Highlanders/Te Whānau Apanui)
Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan has named an exciting blend of experience and rising young talent with the selection of two debuting Māori All Blacks on the bench, Ngāi Tahu lock Josh Dickson and Ngāpuhi loose forward Jacob Norris.
The Māori All Blacks starting pack features an experienced front row of loosehead prop Pouri Rakete-Stones (Ngāpuhi), tighthead prop Josh Hohneck (Ngāti Manuhiri) and Kāpene Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga) at hooker. Blues hooker Kurt Eklund (Ngāti Kahu) alongside fellow teammate, tighthead prop Marcel Renata (Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāti Takoto) and Crusaders Rookie of the Year Tamaiti Williams (Ngāpuhi) will provide impact off the bench.
Locking duo of Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Isaia Walker-Leawere (Ngāti Porou) will start, with Highlanders and Otago lock Dickson (Ngāi Tahu) to debut off the bench. A formidable Canterbury loose forward combination of Reed Prinsep (Te Rārawa) and Billy Harmon (Ngāti Tahu) will take the field in jerseys six and seven respectively, with Norris (Ngāpuhi) set to debut off the bench. Whetukamokamo Douglas (Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue) starts at number eight to round out the forward pack.
In the backs, Bryn Hall (Ngāti Ranginui) and Otere Black (Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa) will combine at nine and ten. Halfback Sam Nock (Ngāpuhi) and first-five eighth Josh Ioane (Te Rārawa) will ably provide cover on the bench. An exciting midfield combination of Alex Nankivell (Ngāpuhi) and Billy Proctor (Ngai Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi) with start at 12 and 13.
An electrifying Chiefs back three of Sean Wainui (Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngā Arikikaiputahi/Ngāti Porou) on the left wing, Shaun Stevenson (Ngāpuhi) on the right, at Kaleb Trask (Ngāpuhi) at fullback will start with teammate Jonah Lowe (Ngāti Pikiao) to be injected off the bench.
Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāi Tamawhariua/Te Rangihouhiri) said: “We are anticipating a competitive challenge from our Samoan brothers on Saturday. They are a physical team, with a threatening attack. We know they would have prepared well and will be excited for the challenge ahead.”
“It will be a great opportunity for us to showcase Māori rugby. We have an experienced and talented group of individuals who are continuing to push for higher honours. This is their opportunity to put their hand up.”
“It will be a really proud moment for Josh and Jacob to not only represent this team, but their whānau and their iwi,” said McMillan.
It has been 28 years since the Māori All Blacks last played in Wellington, when they hosted the British and Irish Lions in 1993 at Athletic Park. McMillan said the team are excited to take the field in Wellington once more.
“While this week has had its challenges, we have continued to prepare well and there is some excitement among the team to play in Wellington. We are obviously disappointed we are unable to perform in front of our whānau and pā (fans), but we still want to deliver a performance they can be proud of,” finished McMillan.
1960, was the first Samoa vs. Māori All Blacks fixture in Apia.
1993, was the last time the Māori All Blacks took to the field in Wellington. The Māori All Blacks hosted the British and Irish Lions at Athletic Park.
2008, was the last time the Māori All Blacks challenged Manu Samoa, this game was held in Hamilton at FMG Stadium Waikato.
The Māori All Blacks have played Samoa a total of 10 times.
This will be the Māori All Blacks 124th international game.