8 Jun 2017

New caps and experience for Maori All Blacks

2:56 pm on 8 June 2017

There are three new caps and six former All Blacks named in the Maori All Blacks squad to play the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua next Saturday.

Māori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper

Māori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper Photo: Photosport

Coach Colin Cooper has picked two uncapped halfbacks - North Harbour's Bryn Hall and Taranaki's Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi - along with Canterbury midfielder Rob Thompson as potential debutants for the Maori team.

However Cooper has also elected to go with experience in naming six former All Blacks in the 27-man squad. These players are flankers Elliot Dixon and Liam Messam, hooker Hikawera Elliott and backs Damien McKenzie, Charlie Ngatai and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Nehe Milner-Skudder of the Hurricanes runs in a try.

All Blacks fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder Photo: Photosport

The team also includes a strong backbone of Super Rugby experience with Blues trio Akira Ioane, Kara Prior and Ihia West joining fellow Super franchsie players Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, Charlie Ngatai and James Lowe along with props Chris Eves and Ben May.

The Lions are struggling to gain momentum after last night's loss to the Blues in Auckland and Cooper says he believes the squad will provide a formidable test for the Lions in Rotorua.

"We've got a very exciting group coming together to experience this special and rare occasion. The majority of us have been working together over the past couple of years so we already have an understanding of each other and clarity around what we're looking to achieve."

The two sides last met in 2005, when the Māori All Blacks upset the touring British and Irish Lions 19-13 at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton

Cooper says his players will be ready for what he expects to be a huge match.

"Knowing the ground will be full for the match, and getting a feel for the support that's coming from the Rotorua community in hosting us is exciting."

The full squad, which assembles in Rotorua on Sunday,is:



Chris Eves - North Harbour - Waikato/Tainui (7 appearances)

Kane Hames - Tasman - Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngāti Porou (5)

Mike Kainga - Taranaki - Ngāti Kahungunu (2)

Ben May - Hawke's Bay - Ngāti Maniapoto (12)

Marcel Renata - Auckland - Ngāti Whānaunga / Te Aupouri (4)


Ash Dixon (captain) - Hawke's Bay - Ngāti Tahinga (8)

Hikawera Elliot - Counties Manukau - Ngāti Awa (9)


Tom Franklin - Otago - Ngāti Maniapoto (4)

Leighton Price - Taranaki - Waikato/Ngāti Maniapoto (3)

Joe Wheeler - Tasman - Ngāi Tahu (2)

Loose forwards

Elliot Dixon - Southland - Ngāpuhi (9)

Akira Ioane - Auckland - Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui (5)

Liam Messam - Waikato - Ngāti Maniapoto (12)

Reed Prinsep - Canterbury - Te Rārawa (2)

Kara Pryor - Northland - Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāti Rangitihi (2)



Bryn Hall - North Harbour - Ngāti Ranginui (new cap)

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi - Taranaki - Ngāti Pikiao (new cap)

First five-eighths

Otere Black - Manawatu - Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa (4)

Ihaia West - Hawke's Bay - Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Porou (7)


Tim Bateman - Canterbury - Ngāi Tahu (12)

Charlie Ngatai - Taranaki - Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Te Whakatōhea (9)

Matt Proctor - Wellington - Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi (9)

Rob Thompson - Canterbury - Ngāti Kahungunu (new cap)

James Lowe - Tasman - Ngāpuhi/Ngāi Te Rangi (5)

Outside backs

Damian McKenzie - Waikato - Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tahinga (3)

Nehe Milner-Skudder - Manawatu - Ngāti Porou/Tapuika (2)

Declan O'Donnell - Taranaki - Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Porou (1)