- Pari Pari Parkinson returns, named to start
- 125th Māori All Blacks international match
- Last played at Mt Smart in 1996
The match day 23 is as follows (Province/Super Rugby Club, and Iwi in brackets, debutants in bold).
1. Tamaiti Williams (Canterbury/Crusaders/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. Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman/Highlanders/Te Whānau Apanui)
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. Sam Nock (Northland/Blues/Ngāpuhi)
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. Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay/Chiefs/Ngāti Pikiao)
15. Josh Ioane (Otago/Highlanders/Te Rārawa)
16. Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty/Blues/Ngāti Kahu)
17. Ollie Norris (Waikato/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
18. Marcel Renata (Auckland/Blues/ Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāi Takoto)
19. Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes/Ngāti Porou)
20. Josh Dickson (Otago/Highlanders/Ngāi Tahu)
21. Bryn Hall (North Harbour/Crusaders/ Ngāti Ranginui)
22. Rameka Poihipi (Canterbury/Chiefs/Ngāti Whakaue)
23. Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour/Chiefs/Ngāpuhi)
Māori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāi Tamawhariua/Te Rangihouhiri) has named an impressive team to challenge Manu Samoa in their closing match at Mt Smart Stadium. The side will welcome the return of towering lock Pari Pari Parkinson (Te Whānau Apanui) and debuting loosehead prop Ollie Norris (Ngāpuhi).
In the front row, Tamaiti Williams (Ngāpuhi) will start at loosehead prop, with Norris (Ngāpuhi) covering on the bench. Experienced campaigners, tighthead prop Josh Hohneck (Ngāti Manuhiri) and Kāpene Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga) will complete the front row. Blues hooker Kurt Eklund (Ngāti Kahu) and fellow teammate, tighthead prop Marcel Renata (Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāti Takoto) remain unchanged on the bench.
Highlanders locking duo of Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Parkinson (Te Whānau Apanui) will start, with Josh Dickson (Ngāi Tahu) and Isaia Walker-Leawere (Ngāti Porou) to provide impact off the bench. An unchanged loose forward combination of Reed Prinsep (Te Rārawa) and Billy Harmon (Ngāti Tahu) will take the field with Whetukamokamo Douglas (Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue) rounding out the forward pack at number eight.
In the backs, Sam Nock (Ngāpuhi) is given the opportunity to showcase his talent at halfback. Nock (Ngāpuhi) will combine with experienced first five-eighths Otere Black (Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa). Instrumental halfback Bryn Hall (Ngāti Ranginui) will provide a competitive edge when he is injected into the game off the bench. The hardworking midfield combination of Alex Nankivell (Ngāpuhi) and Billy Proctor (Ngai Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi) will once again line up to start. Covering the duo will be Rameka Poihipi (Ngāti Whakaue), who will be given the opportunity to display his craft off the bench.
Sean Wainui (Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngā Arikikaiputahi/Ngāti Porou) holds his starting spot on the left wing, while fellow Chiefs’ teammate Jonah Lowe (Ngāti Pikiao) will start on the right. Utility back Josh Ioane (Te Rārawa) shifts moves into the starting fifteen, to start at fullback, with Chiefs’ utility back Shaun Stevenson (Ngāpuhi) ably providing cover for the back three, named in jersey twenty-three.
Māori Head Coach McMillan (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāi Tamawhariua/Te Rangihouhiri) said: “We wanted to give everyone in our 26-man squad the opportunity to pull on the Māori All Blacks jersey. This weekend, Ollie, Pari and Rameka get that chance.”
“It has been a special time for the Norris brothers. Last week Jacob debuted and this week it is his younger brother that gets the opportunity. Ollie has had a successful Super Rugby campaign for the Chiefs, and this is his chance to step up to the next level,” said McMillan.
McMillan excited for the return of Parkinson in the Māori All Blacks jersey, is expecting his towering presence will be an asset on the park.
“Pari, last played in the Māori All Blacks jersey, when the team took on Fiji, in Rotorua. He was immense that game, provided a huge presence against Fiji and we are looking for a similar game from him on Saturday.”
The Māori All Blacks last played at Mt Smart Stadium when they hosted Manu Samoa in 1996. Saturday’s game will mark the Māori All Blacks 125th international match.
It will be a special occasion for Black who will make the move to Japan at the end of the season. McMillan said Black is an exceptionally talent Māori rugby player.
“His knowledge of tikanga Māori, passion for the jersey and contribution to this team is immense. It will be a special occasion on Saturday for Otere and his whānau, and we know both him and the team are wanting to deliver a memorable conference.”