New-look Maori side selected

Ash Dixon will captain the NZ Maori side. Photo: Getty Images
Ash Dixon will captain the NZ Maori side. Photo: Getty Images

Ten new caps are included in a raw-looking Maori All Black squad named yesterday for a two-match northern hemisphere tour.

New coach Clayton McMillan has been forced to probe for depth after several first-choice players were ruled out by injury or selection for the All Blacks.

Seven forwards and three backs have not played previously for the Maori side, winning inclusion in the initial squad unveiling of 25 players. Two more players will be added.

A match against Canada in Vancouver on November 3 is followed by a clash with a French Barbarians team in Bordeaux on November 10.

Just four players who started in the Maori All Blacks' 32-10 loss to the British and Irish Lions in Hamilton in June have been included. They are captain Ash Dixon, lock Tom Franklin, No 8 Akira Ioane and midfield back Charlie Ngatai.

McMillan is blessed with midfield back options, having named five such players with Super Rugby experience. However, the only outside back specialist named is Manawatu flyer Ambrose Curtis.

Those selected for the first time are props Ross Wright and Tyrel Lomax, hooker Liam Polwart, locks Jackson Hemopo and Keepa Mewett, loose forwards Sam Henwood and Jordan Manihera, halfback Jonathan Ruru, first five-eighth Jackson Garden- Bachop and midfield back Teihorangi Walden.

Interest will surround the form of former Rebels front-rower Tyrel Lomax, the son of former Kiwis league prop John Lomax.

The 21-year-old has committed to New Zealand rugby by signing a two-year contract with the Highlanders.

McMillan said most of his squad had displayed strong NPC form but admitted they would lean on the experience of a handful of players to show the way.

"We are fortunate to have Ash Dixon return as captain; he is the heart of our pack and his leadership, both on and off the field, steers the team's special character,'' he said.


For northern tour

Backs: Ambrose Curtis, Sean Wainui, Charlie Ngatai, Teihorangi Walden, Rob Thompson, Tim Bateman, Ihaia West, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jonathan Ruru.

Forwards: Akira Ioane, Jordan Manihera, Sam Henwood, Dan Pryor, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Jarrad Hoeata, Keepa Mewett, Chris Eves, Ross Wright, Marcel Renata, Tyrel Lomax, Ash Dixon (capt), Liam Polwart.






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