29 Oct 2012

Plenty of class in Maori All Blacks

4:34 pm on 29 October 2012

Coach Jamie Joseph has plenty of class to choose from in his Maori All Blacks team named to tour England next month, with five former All Black forwards in the side - while a controversial No.10 also gets a reprieve.

Bay of Plenty stalwart Tanerau Latimer will captain the re-named team (formerly New Zealand Maori), which includes fellow former All Blacks Hika Elliot, Jarrad Hoeata, Jason Eaton and Ross Filipo.

That should mean a strong lineout and scrum while in a left-field call, the disgraced Willie Ripia has been handed a rugby lifeline as the starting first five-eighth - the only specialist pivot named.

A former Hurricanes back, Ripia quit the Western Force this year after alleged theft from his team-mates to feed a gambling addiction.

Two new sponsorship deals have also been revealed for the Maori All Blacks with BNZ to sponsor the team for three years with the BNZ logo replacing the new AIG deal on the jersey for this tour only, while the country's largest Maori-owned fisheries company, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, has secured naming rights for this tour and two subsequent international tours.

The Maori All Blacks begin the tour with a fixture against Leicester Tigers on November 13th before playing a Championship XV four days later, followed by Canada at Oxford University on the 23rd.

The side assembles in Auckland on Saturday ahead of their departure on November the 6th.

Maori All Blacks:

Hookers - Hika Elliot (Ngati Awa/Hawke's Bay), Quentin MacDonald (Rangitane/Tasman)

Props - Ben May (Ngati Maniapoto/Waikato), Bronson Murray (Ngapuhi/Bay of Plenty), Ben Afeaki (Ngati Awa/North Harbour), Jacob Ellison (Ngati Porou/Otago)

Locks - Jarrad Hoeata (Ngati Kahungunu/Taranaki), Jason Eaton (Ngati Apa/Taranaki), Romana Graham (Ngati Awa/Waikato), Ross Filipo (Muaupoko/Wellington)

Loose forwards - Nick Crosswell (Ngati Porou/Manawatu), Tanerau Latimer (c) (Te Arawa/Bay of Plenty), Elliot Dixon (Ngapuhi/Southland), Karl Lowe (Ngati Kahungunu/Hawke's Bay), Shane Christie (Ngati Kura/Tasman)

Halfbacks - Jamison Gibson-Park (Ngati Porou/Nga Tai/Taranaki), Frae Wilson (Ngati Rangi/Te Ati Awa-Wellington)

First five-eighths - Willie Ripia (Ngai Tuhoe/Bay of Plenty)

Midfielders - Tim Bateman (Ngai Tahu/Wellington), Jackson Willison (Ngati Mahuta/Waikato), Charles Ngatai (Ngati Porou/Te Whanau-a-Apanui-Wellington)

Outside backs - Declan O'Donnell (Ngati Tuwharetoa/Ngati Porou-Waikato), Andre Taylor (Ngati Tuwharetoa/Ngati Kahungunu/Taranaki), Kurt Baker (Ngapuhi/Taranaki), Trent Renata (Ngati Maru/Waikato), Kade Poki (Te Ati Awa/Southland)