The Maori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan has today named the first side of the 2019 season, to play Rugby World Cup hopefuls, Fiji, in Suva this weekend.
McMillan has named a hugely experienced side to kick off their 2019 fixtures calendar, with fullback Fletcher Smith the only debutant named to start.
The other four new caps will notch up their first Maori matches from the bench –hooker Nathan Harris, outside backs Alex Nankivell and Jordan Hyland and young Waikato prop Haereiti Hetet who was called into the squad this week, and named in the team the day after his 22nd birthday.
Every player in the starting 15 is an experienced Super Rugby player and the caliber of the bench sets up a mouth-watering battle against the world’s 9th ranked Fijian team.
“We have a proud tradition of playing the passionate and highly skillful Fijians. We have relished every one of our 29 encounters, and I know that ranked in the world top 10, Fiji will be playing with more than one eye on their Rugby World Cup campaign.
“We have named a strong side to reflect what we think is going to be a great contest.
“We expect the conditions will be hot, but we know that many of these Super Rugby players have played in Fiji before so that experience will be invaluable.
“We’re wanting the boys to be direct in contact, and deliberate in their game decisions, so having someone like Ash lead them will be critical.
“We’re very fortunate that many of these lads have played together in this team, and it’s very exciting that we will get an opportunity to do it all over again in Rotorua next week.”
The Maori All Blacks have played Fiji 29 times with the Maori recording 20 wins, Fiji seven wins and two draws.
Saturday 13 July 2019, 3pm
ANZ Stadium, Suva
Saturday 20 July 2019, 7.35pm
Rotorua International Stadium
2: Ash Dixon (Captain) Hawkes Bay/Highlanders – Ngati Tahinga
3: Tyrel Lomax (Tasman/Highlanders) – Ngai Tuhoe / Muaupoko
4: Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes) – Ngati Porou
5: Tom Franklin (Bay Of Plenty/Highlanders) – Ngati Maniapoto
6: Reed Prinsep (Canterbury/Hurricanes) – Te Rarawa
7: Mitch Karpik (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs) – Rongomaiwahine / Ngati Kahungunu
8: Akira Ioane (Auckland/Blues) – Ngapuhi / Te Whanau a Apanui
9: Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki/Chiefs) – Ngati Pikiao
10: Otere Black (Manawatu/ Blues) – Ngai Tuhoe / Te Whanau a Apanui / Ngati Tuwharetoa
11: Sean Wainui (Taranaki/Chiefs) – Ngai Tuhoe / Te Aitanga a Mahaki / Nga Arikikaiputahi / Ngati Porou
12: Teihorangi Walden (Taranaki/Highlanders) Te Atiawa
13: Rob Thompson (Manawatu/Highlanders) – Ngati Kahungunu / Nga Rauru
14: Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour/Chiefs) – Ngapuhi
15: Fletcher Smith * (Waikato/Hurricanes) – Ngati Kahungunu
16: Nathan Harris * (Bay Of Plenty/Chiefs) – Ngati Hikairo / Waikato Tainui
17: Haereiti Hetet * (Waikato) – Ngati Maniapoto
18 Marcel Renata (Auckland/Blues) – Ngati Whanaunga / Ngai Takoto
19 Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman/Highlanders) – Te Whanau a Apanui
20 Whetukamokamo Douglas (Canterbury/Crusaders) – Ngati Porou / Ngati Whakaue
21: Bryn Hall (North Harbour/Crusaders) – Ngati Ranginui
22 Alex Nankivell * (Tasman/Chiefs) – Ngapuhi
23 Jordan Hyland * (Northland) – Ngai Tahu