Dixon to lead Maori All Blacks, eight new caps

Ash Dixon carries the ball for the Maori All Blacks against the United States last year. Photo:...
Ash Dixon carries the ball for the Maori All Blacks against the United States last year. Photo: Getty Images
Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan has named eight new caps in a 24-player squad to prepare for a one-off match against Moana Pasifika in Hamilton.

Hawke's Bay and Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon will captain the side against Moana Pasifika on December 5.

The Māori All Blacks squad features an injection of youth around a core of experience and will also benefit from the knowledge of Highlanders coach Tony Brown, who has been announced as an Assistant Coach alongside Roger Randle.

Among the new caps in the squad is an all-new midfield trio of Billy Proctor and former Hamilton Boys' High School first XV teammates Quinn Tupaea and Rameka Poihipi, as well as fulllback Kaleb Trask.

There are also four new faces in the forwards where 20-year-old Canterbury prop Taimati Williams is joined by Crusaders and North Harbour loose forward Ethan Roots, Bay of Plenty and Blues prop Kurt Eklund and Southland and Highlanders lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit.

One player will be added to the Māori All Blacks squad in coming days.

"It's an exciting group and the eight new caps bring some genuine excitement and energy to the squad," McMillan said.

"There is a new generation of Māori players coming through, but also there are some great leaders around them with a vast amount of experience."

That experience includes captain Dixon, who has been inspirational in leading Hawke's Bay to this weekend's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final, as well as former All Black Liam Messam (36), who will play his first match for the Māori All Blacks since facing the British & Irish Lions in Rotorua in 2017, and Otago prop Josh Hohneck who last wore the Māori jersey in 2015.

"It's great to have the mana of players like Liam and Josh back in the playing group and likewise Tony Brown brings a huge amount of knowledge to our coaching team, and also passion as someone who has worn the Māori All Blacks jersey."

Dixon said the match against Moana Pasifika would be a special occasion.

"This year has been challenging for a lot of people across our communities in New Zealand and to have the chance to represent the Māori All Blacks in the heart of Waikato-Tainui and the Kingitanga for the only time in 2020 will be a huge honour for us as players, our whānau and our iwi.

"It will be a celebration and connection of culture in Hamilton, but we know Moana Pasifika is a talented, passionate and physical opponent so expect there will be a real edge in both camps."

The Māori All Blacks squad is (with Province, Super Rugby Club, and Iwi):

Josh Hohneck, Otago, Ngāti Manuhiri/Ngāti Whātua
Pouri Rakete-Stones, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ngāpuhi
Marcel Renata, Auckland/Blues, Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāi Takoto
Tamaiti Williams, Canterbury, Ngāpuhi

Ash Dixon (c), Hawkes Bay/Highlanders, Ngāti Tahinga
Kurt Eklund, Bay of Plenty/Blues, Ngāpuhi

Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Southland/Highlanders, Ngāti Raukawa
Isaia Walker-Leawere, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ngāti Porou

Loose Forwards
Billy Harmon, Canterbury/Crusaders, Ngāi Tahu
Reed Prinsep, Canterbury/Hurricanes, Te Rārawa
Liam Messam, Waikato, Ngāi Tuhoe
Whetukamokamo Douglas, Canterbury/Crusaders, Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue
Ethan Roots, North Harbour/Crusaders, Ngāti Kahungunu

Bryn Hall, North Harbour/Crusaders, Ngāti Ranginui
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, Ngāti Pikiao

First five-eighths
Otere Black, Bay of Plenty/Blues, Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Fletcher Smith, Waikato/Hurricanes, Ngāti Kahungunu

Billy Proctor, Wellington/Hurricanes, Ngai Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi
Rameka Poihipi, Canterbury, Ngāti Whakaue
Quinn Tupaea, Waikato/Chiefs, Waikato/Tainui

Outside Backs
Sean Wainui, Taranaki/Chiefs, Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Āitanga a Māhaki/Ngā Arikikaiputahi/Ngāti Porou
Shaun Stevenson, North Harbour/Chiefs, Ngāpuhi
Jonah Lowe, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ngāti Pikiao
Kaleb Trask, Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, Ngāpuhi

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