Four changes in Maori side to take on Brazil; Dixon in doubt

The New Zealand Maori side has made four changes to its team to take on Brazil tomorrow.

Doubt also surrounds captain and Highlanders skipper Ash Dixon, who is nursing a knee injury.

The side is coming off a 59-22 win over the United States last week and the changes  have prop Marcel Renata, loose forward Billy Harmon, halfback Jonathan Ruru and outside back Matt Lansdown all getting a start this week.

Jackson Hemopo, Bryn Hall and Matt Proctor joined the squad in Sao Paulo after completing their All Blacks duties in Japan last week.  All three will provide firepower from the bench.

Coach Clayton McMillan said the team had enjoyed a wonderful week in Sao Paulo where locals had been very welcoming, and there had been an air of excitement about playing in an unfamiliar territory.

"That probably sums up the challenge for us in preparing for a match when we don’t quite know what to expect from Brazil," he said.

"Rugby might not be their number one sport here but you can clearly see that they are a passionate and proud people, so we can probably expect an enthusiastic Brazilian opposition. They’ll be athletic, and they’ll love playing in front of a home crowd.

"The boys who were on All Blacks duty in Japan have blended into the team nicely since their arrival."

Robbie Abel has been bracketed alongside Dixon and, if required, Ross Wright will cover the bench in the replacement hooker’s position.

"Ash is obviously a huge part of our on-field leadership, so we want to give him as much time as possible to get over a stinger he took to the knee.  Robbie and Ross will step up if required."

Otago inside back Josh Ioane has again been named in the reserves and, like last week, should get some game time tomorrow.

 

Maori v Brazil
Sao Paulo, tomorrow, 10am

NZ Maori: Matt Lansdown, Jonah Lowe, Rob Thompson, Tei Walden, Shaun Stevenson, Otere Black, Jonathan Ruru, Akira Ioane, Billy Harmon, Reed Prinsep, Pari Pari Parkinson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Marcel Renata, Ash Dixon (captain) or Robbie Abel, Ben May. Reserves: Abel or Ross Wright,  Chris Eves, Tyrel Lomax, Jackson Hemopo, Mitch Karpik, Bryn Hall, Josh Ioane, Matt Proctor.

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