Māori All Blacks full of fresh blood ahead of northern hemisphere tour
There are new players, a new coach and a new era for the Māori All Blacks as a Northern Hemisphere tour of Canada and France was announced today.
With Māori players moving up in the ranks or injured, so too are new players coming through which according to Māori All Blacks coach, Clayton McMillan, allows them time to uncover new talent.
He says “Some players are being promoted to the All Blacks, but there are also a number of players who are injured. That has had an impact on the squad that was selected today. That’s unfortunate for those guys but it opens the door for some new guys to have an opportunity.”
Ten new players have joined the ranks; they will be looking to the experienced players to lead the way.
Māori All Blacks captain Ash Dixon is excited for the new additions, saying “I know they will be excited and that’s always good. They always bring excitement and fizz. For us, it’s about containing that for a time, get some quality stuff in and then release them on the weekend.”
Of the Māori All Blacks team that played against the British and Irish Lions, there are Damian McKenzie, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Hames and Rieko Ioane who have made it into the All Blacks tour team.
There could be an opportunity for more Māori All Blacks to move into the All Blacks squad in the future once All Blacks coach Steve Hansen sees them playing at a high international level.
Hansen adds “For us, that’s really important, they are a great resource for us moving forward.”
But before the players get to that level, they will first play in the Māori All Blacks jersey, playing the best rugby that they can and focusing on their weaker areas after their last game against the Lions.
Based on their last defeat, Ash Dixon also says; “It was like we had our armour on and no bullets. We didn’t really fire shots. I’m hoping we can be more aware this time, actually throw some shots and play some footy.”
The team will assemble for their first training on Thursday and leave for Canada on Sunday.