- Eight debutants named
- Liam Messam to start at number eight
- Josh Hohneck to start in first Māori All Blacks test since 2015
The matchday 23 is as follows (Province/Super Rugby Club, and Iwi in brackets, debutants in bold):
1: Josh Hohneck (Otago/Ngāti Manuhiri/Ngāti Whātua)
2: Ash Dixon – Kāpene (Hawke’s Bay/Highlanders/Ngāti Tahinga)
3: Marcel Renata (Auckland/Blues/Ngāti Whanaunga/Ngāi Takoto)
4: Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāti Porou)
5: Manaaki Selby-Rickit(Southland/Highlanders/Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
6: Whetukamokamo Douglas (Canterbury/Crusaders/Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue)
7: Billy Harmon (Canterbury/Crusaders/Ngāi Tahu)
8: Liam Messam (Waikato/Ngāi Tuhoe)
9: Bryn Hall (North Harbour/Crusaders/Ngāti Ranginui)
10: Otere Black (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāi Tūhoe/Te Whānau a Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa)
11: Sean Wainui (Taranaki/Chiefs/ Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi/Ngāti Porou)
12: Quinn Tupaea (Waikato/Chiefs/Waikato)
13: Billy Proctor (Wellington/Hurricanes/ Ngāi 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: Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāpuhi)
18: Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury/Ngāpuhi)
19: Ethan Roots (North Harbour/Crusaders/Ngāti Kahungunu)
20: Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Rongomaiwahine/Ngāti Kahungunu)
21: Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs/Ngāti Pikiao)
22: Rameka Poihipi (Canterbury/Ngāti Whakaue)
23: Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāti Pikiao)
Unavailable for selection:
Reed Prinsep (Canterbury/Crusaders/Te Te Rarawa)
The match day 23 features an injection of youth among a core group of experienced players. The selection includes eight Māori All Black debutants; Southland lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Bay of Plenty hooker Kurt Eklund, Canterbury prop Tamaiti Williams and North Harbour loose forward Ethan Roots. Midfield trio of Billy Proctor (Wellington), Quinn Tupaea (Waikato) and Rameka Poihipi (Canterbury) and Bay of Plenty fullback Kaleb Trask.
The Māori All Blacks starting pack features an experienced front row of Josh Hohneck at loosehead prop, Māori All Blacks kāpene (captain) Ash Dixon in the No.2 jersey and tighthead prop Marcel Renata. Debutants Kurt Eklund and Tamaiti Williams will provide front row cover off the bench. The locking duo of Isaia Walker-Leawere debutant Selby-Rickit will start, with lock Ethan Roots to debut off the bench. Experienced loose forwards in Whetukamokamo Douglas and Billy Harmon will take the field in jersey’s six and seven. Veteran Liam Messam starts at No.8 to round out the forwards.
In the backs, Bryn Hall and Otere Black will combine in the halves. Tupaea and Proctor will debut in the midfield. The electrifying all-Chiefs back three of Sean Wainui, Shaun Stevenson and Trask will start on the left and right wings and fullback, respectively.
An injection of experience and talent features on the reserves bench with loose forward Mitchell Karpik named after being called into the squad earlier in the week as an injury replacement for Reed Prinsep who was ruled out with a calf injury. Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, midfielder Poihipi and wing Jonah Lowe round out the bench.
Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāi Tamawhariua/ Te Rangihouhiri said:
“It’s a really proud opportunity for those young men and their whānau and their iwi hapū to represent the Māori All Blacks. It represents a bit of a changing of the guard, we’ve had some real stalwarts that have moved overseas or are unavailable for this particular campaign and that opens up the door for some of those young guys to come in and show us what they’ve got and experience what it’s like to be in our environment.”
McMillan said it’s been great having experienced heads like Messam and Hohneck back in the environment.
“We felt the likes of Liam and Josh, guys that have been in the jersey historically, gone away and plied their trade overseas, have come back and added real value to their Mitre 10 Cup teams. It’s a no brainer for us, they are still good enough, but the peripheral stuff they bring, the mana and the knowledge and their ability to set really high standards for young people to follow has been instrumental in pulling these guys together.”