The 26-strong Maori All Blacks squad to take on Canada and the United States next month was named today by New Zealand Maori Rugby Board Chairman Wayne Peters.
The side will be captained by Wellington and Hurricanes back Tim Bateman and features six former All Blacks and 11 players who played for the Maori All Blacks last year.
The squad departs for North America on Monday 28 October.
The squad for the Maori All Blacks North America Tour is:
Hika Elliott - Ngati Awa -Counties Manukau
Corey Flynn - Ngai Tahu -Canterbury
Ben Afeaki - Ngati Awa - North Harbour
Nick Barrett - Ngati Kahungunu - Southland
Chris Eves - Tainui - Manawatu
Kane Hames - Ngai Tuhoe/Ngati Porou - Bay of Plenty
Joe Royal - Te Arawa / Ngati Whatua I Orakei - Bay of Plenty
Jarrad Hoeata - Ngati Kahungunu / Ngai Tuhoe - Taranaki
Luke Katene - Ngati Toa - Canterbury
Joe Wheeler - Ngai Tahu - Tasman
Luke Braid - Ngati Tumutumu - Auckland
Shane Christie - Ngati Kuri - Tasman
Elliot Dixon - Ngapuhi - Southland
Liam Squire - Ngai Tahu - Tasman
Blade Thomson - Ngapuhi - Taranaki
Jamison Gibson-Park - Ngati Porou / Ngai Tai - Taranaki
Piri Weepu - Te Whakatohea / Ngai Tahu - Auckland
Ihaia West - Ngati Kahungunu / Ngati Porou - Hawke's Bay
Tim Bateman - Ngai Tahu - Wellington
Charlie Ngatai - Ngati Porou/Te Whanau-a-Apanui - Wellington
Jackson Willison - Ngati Mahuta - Waikato
Kurt Baker - Ngapuhi - Taranaki
Zac Guildford - Ngati Kahunganu/Ngai Tahu - Hawke's Bay
Robbie Robinson - Ngati Tuwharetoa - Southland
Andre Taylor - Ngati Tuwharetoa/Ngati Kahungunu - Taranaki
Matt Proctor - Ngai te Rangi/Ngapuhi - Welliington
Coach Colin Cooper said he was pleased to take a squad boasting an exciting mix of experience and young talent.
“I’m really excited about this tour and the opportunities it gives young players to press for higher honours, as well as the chance to honour the proud legacy of the teams that have gone before.
“New Zealand Rugby has identified the Maori All Blacks as a high performance team and our selections reflect that.
“We have experienced campaigners like Hika Elliott and Piri Weepu as well as young up and comers like Ihaia West and Liam Squire so the side has great balance.
"While our time together is short, we are very determined to build on our international record and make the most of the matches against Canada and the United States.
"These are great times for the Maori All Blacks. We going to a part of the world which offers huge opportunities for New Zealand rugby and for our national teams to connect with more fans. Also, with New Zealand Rugby Major Global Sponsor AIG’s support the team can now look forward to a regular international touring programme and that will help the All Blacks coaching team build for the future."
26 year old Tim Bateman takes over the captaincy from Tanerau Latimer who was unavailable as he is due to have surgery on a long standing injury.
“I am thrilled for Tim to take over the leadership duties - he is a mature young man who leads by example. He knows the team culture really well having played for us in recent years so he is a great fit.
"I'm disappointed for Tanerau, but fully respect his reasons to step away for this tour.”
Maori All Blacks North American Tour schedule (NZT)
Sunday 3 November v Canada at BMO Stadium, kick-off 1pm (7am Monday 4 Nov)
Saturday 9 November v USA at PPL Park, kick-off 7pm (1pm Sunday 10 Nov)
Watch the Maori All Blacks
Both matches are live on SKY.
v Canada – live on TSN
v USA - live on FOX Soccer Plus and live streamed through the USA on http://www.foxsoccer2go.com/. The game will be repeated on FOX Sports 1 Sunday, Nov. 10, at noon ET. FOX Sports 1, the new national 24-hour multi-sport channel, launched Aug. 17 in more than 90 million homes across the U.S., marking the largest sports network launch in television history.