PREVIEW: Maori All Blacks v Fiji (Rotorua)

Maori All Blacks huddle 1566173554

Match details: Maori All Blacks v Fiji, 7.35pm Saturday 20 July, Rotorua International Stadium. TICKETS.

Played: 30
Won: Maori All Blacks 20, Fiji 8
Drawn: 2
Last time: Fiji 27, Maori All Blacks 10 (13 July, 2019)

SQUAD NEWS
Maori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan has retained faith in the playing 23 that played Fiji in Suva last week. In addition to a few positional changes, the main switch in this week’s team sees five of last week’s reserves pick up starting positions in Rotorua this weekend. Among them are loose forward Whetukamokamo Douglas and halfback Bryn Hall, who along with Alex Nankivell, Jordan Hyland, and the lofty Pari Pari Parkinson will all run on for the Maori All Blacks this week. They swap with Akira Ioane, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Fletcher Smith and Teihorangi Walden who join hooker Nathan Harris as critical impact players from the bench.


QUICK TAP: FIVE UNCAPPED PLAYERS NAMED IN ALL BLACKS 

REDEMPTION WANTED
After suffering their first loss to Fiji last weekend in 62 years, the Maori All Blacks are desperate for an improved performance on home turf says lock Tom Franklin. It was a bit of a smack in the face but the boys are keen for a bit of redemption. We've been working really hard and everyone has been doing their part behind the scenes to get ready to prepare to go to battle again and try and redeem ourselves. We're very excited about the opportunity and can't wait,” Franklin said.

WHETU ON THE RISE
It has been a rapid rise for Whetukamokamo Douglas since returning to New Zealand from Italian club Treviso in 2018. The hard-running No.8 quickly established himself as a key figure in the Crusaders championship winning team and was even touted for All Blacks honours in some quarters. Although he missed selection in the All Blacks Investec Rugby Championship squad, Douglas now gets his chance to start at No.8 for the Maori All Blacks with Akira Ioane shifting to the bench. While imposing with ball in hand and on defence, Douglas is a genuine leader and will provide a guiding hand for some of the youngsters in the Maori All Blacks pack.
COACH’S WORD
Maori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan said the team had prepared well all week in Rotorua and was looking forward to playing in front of their home fans. “This is a special match for many of us who have never experienced the Maori All Blacks playing at home in front of our whanau and friends. We are very excited about having home crowd advantage and we really hope our supporters come out in force on Saturday,” said McMillan.

FAST FACT
The last time the Maori All Blacks played on home soil was in 2017 against the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua. The Lions came out on top 32-10 to avenge their loss to the Maori All Blacks in 2005.

TEAMS
Maori All Blacks:
1: Ross Wright 2: Ash Dixon (Captain) 3: Tyrel Lomax 4: Tom Franklin 5: Pari Pari Parkinson 6: Reed Prinsep 7: Mitch Karpik 8: Whetukamokamo Douglas 9: Bryn Hall 10: Otere Black 11: Sean Wainui 12: Alex Nankivell 13: Rob Thompson 14: Jordan Hyland 15: Shaun Stevenson
Reserves: 16: Nathan Harris 17: Haereiti Hetet 18: Marcel Renata 19: Isaia Walker-Leawere
20: Akira Ioane 21: Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi 22: Fletcher Smith 23: Teihorangi Walden

Fiji: 1. Campese Ma’afu 2. Veremalua Vugakoto 3. Lee-Roy Atalifo 4. Tevita Ratuva 5. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu 7. Mosese Voka 8. Nemani Nagusa 9. Henry Seniloli 10. Alivereti Veitokani 11. Filipo Nakosi 12. Jale Vatubua 13. Waisea Nayacalevu 14. Patrick Osbourne 15. Kini Murimurivalu
Reserves: 16. Samuel Matavesi 17. Joeli Veitayaki 18. Luke Tagi 19. Albert Tuisue 20. John Dyer 21. Serupepeli Vularika 22. Sevanaia Galala 23. Josh Matavesi

Maori All Blacks huddle 1566173554

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