Maori All Blacks Coach Clayton McMillan has named a strong squad ahead of their two-match series against Manu Samoa.
It will be the first time the sides have met since 2008, with matches at Sky Stadium in Wellington (June 26) and an exciting double header alongside the All Blacks and Tonga at Mt Smart in Auckland (July 3).
The squad features two debutants, 21-year-old Waikato and Chiefs prop Ollie Norris along with Otago and Highlanders loose forward Josh Dickson.
Ash Dixon has been named as kapene of the squad, having made his debut for the side in 2013 he has led the past five campaigns.
Ollie Norris has had a meteoric rise in the front row, only converting positions from the loose forwards in his last year at St Peter’s Cambridge and has since earnt 10 caps for Waikato and 16 for the Chiefs.
Josh Dickson’s form, tireless work rate and aerial skills have also been recognised.
“Josh has been consistent performer throughout both Super Rugby for the Highlanders and NPC for Otago," said McMillan.
“He is highly regarded for his ability in the line out and has an established relationship with Ash, Pari Pari and Manaaki. Having combinations like this will be important when preparing for a short campaign.
“Ollie has progressed through New Zealand age group teams and has transitioned really well into Super Rugby. He has a strong set piece, but stood out with his ball playing ability which will suit the style of play we will be hoping to achieve.
“Following the departure of Ross Wright and the experienced Ben May it allows us to grow our front row,” said McMillan.
The Maori All Blacks played one match in 2021, a 28-21 victory over Moana Pasifika in Hamilton.
“We introduced a number of new players into our environment last year so to have them back for this series is pleasing. I am confident that Ollie and Josh will transition from their Super clubs to our whanau with ease.
“We only have a short build up, and we are expecting a fierce challenge from Samoa as they lead into their World Cup qualifying match. We know that will add an extra edge to the match and that is something we are looking forward to.
“Our players have an immense amount of pride pulling on the Maori All Blacks jersey and with that representing their whanau and iwi, and we know that our Samoan brothers feel the same. Playing alongside the All Blacks v Tonga match at Mt Smart will be a very special occasion.”
McMillan is joined in the coaching group again by Roger Randle and for the first time, Chris Gibbes, from the Hurricanes.
“Chris is a highly experienced coach who will bring with him a wealth of knowledge. He is a specialised forwards coach and is well known for bringing a hard edge which will be an important trait.”
“His younger brother, Jono, was a great captain of the Maori All Blacks, this is an opportunity for Chris to now add his mark to the Maori All Blacks whanau.”
Maori All Blacks Squad is;
|Props|| || |
|Josh Hohneck||Otago||Ngati Manuhiri / Ngati Whatua|
|Pouri Rakete-Stones||Hawke's Bay||Ngapuhi|
|Marcel Renata||Auckland||Ngati Whanaunga / Ngai Takoto|
|Hookers|| || |
|Ash Dixon (Kapene)||Hawke's Bay||Ngati Tahinga|
|Kurt Eklund||Bay of Plenty||Ngati Kahu|
|Locks|| || |
|Manaaki Selby-Rickit||Bay of Plenty ||Ngati Raukawa / Ngati Tuwharetoa|
|Isaia Walker-Leawere ||Hawke's Bay||Ngati Porou|
|Pari Pari Parkinson||Tasman||Te Whanau a Apanui|
|Josh Dickson*||Otago||Ngai Tahu|
|Loose Forwards|| || |
|Billy Harmon||Canterbury||Ngai Tahu|
|Reed Prinsep||Canterbury||Te Rarawa|
|Whetukamokamo Douglas ||Bay of Plenty||Ngati Porou / Ngati Whakaue|
|Half Backs|| || |
|Bryn Hall||North Harbour ||Ngati Ranginui|
|First five-eighths|| || |
|Otere Black||Bay of Plenty||Ngai Tuhoe/Te Whanau a Apanui/Ngati Tuwharetoa|
|Josh Ioane||Otago||Te Rarawa|
|Midfield|| || |
|Billy Proctor||Wellington||Ngai Te Rangi / Ngapuhi|
|Outside Backs|| || |
|Sean Wainui||Bay of Plenty||Ngai Tuhoe / Nga Arikikaiputahi / Ngati Porou|
|Shaun Stevenson||North Harbour||Ngapuhi|
|Jonah Lowe||Hawke's Bay||Ngati Pikiao|
|Kaleb Trask||Bay of Plenty||Ngapuhi|