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Cooper reveals Maori All Blacks squad for Lions clash

Cooper reveals Maori All Blacks squad for Lions clash

Maori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper (right) has Tana Umaga (left) as his assistant coach

Māori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper has named an experienced 27-man squad to play the British & Irish Lions in Rotorua next Saturday.

“This a special and rare occasion.”

The Maori will take on the Lions on the Saturday before the first Test against New Zealand and Cooper has included a number of players with All Blacks experience.

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New Zealand Head Coach Steven Hansens earlier revealed that Rieko Ioane and Tawera Kerr-Barlow would also be released from the All Blacks squad for the Maori clash.

Hooker Ash Dixon is the skipper for Maori – as he was on their northern hemisphere Tour last year – with the likes Nehe Milner-Skudder, Liam Messam and Damian McKenzie all included.

Ihaia West – hero for the Blues on Wednesday night – is also called up and Cooper cannot wait for the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We’ve got a very exciting group coming together to experience this special and rare occasion,” he said.

“The majority of us have been working together over the past couple of years so we already have an understanding of each other and clarity around what we’re looking to achieve.

“Knowing the ground will be full for the match, and getting a feel for the support that’s coming from the Rotorua community in hosting us, along with the rest of New Zealand around the Series and the match itself is exciting.

“We’re very much looking forward to bringing our whānau together over the weekend to start focusing on how we’re going to present ourselves to the Lions, and the world, as the Māori All Blacks.

The 2017 Māori All Blacks Squad to face the Lions:

Forwards
Ash Dixon (captain) – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Tahinga (8)
Hikawera Elliot – Counties Manukau – Ngāti Awa (9)
Chris Eves – North Harbour – Waikato/Tainui (7 appearances)
Kane Hames – Tasman – Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngāti Porou (5)
Mike Kainga – Taranaki – Ngāti Kahungunu (2)
Ben May – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Maniapoto (12)
Marcel Renata – Auckland – Ngāti Whānaunga / Te Aupouri (4)
Tom Franklin – Otago – Ngāti Maniapoto (4)
Leighton Price – Taranaki – Waikato/Ngāti Maniapoto (3)
Joe Wheeler – Tasman – Ngāi Tahu (2)
Elliot Dixon – Southland – Ngāpuhi (9)
Akira Ioane – Auckland – Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui (5)
Liam Messam – Waikato – Ngāti Maniapoto (12)
Reed Prinsep – Canterbury – Te Rārawa (2)
Kara Pryor – Northland – Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāti Rangitihi (2)

Backs
Bryn Hall* – North Harbour – Ngāti Ranginui
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi* – Taranaki – Ngāti Pikiao
Otere Black – Manawatu – Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa (4)
Ihaia West – Hawke’s Bay – Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Porou (7)
Tim Bateman – Canterbury – Ngāi Tahu (12)
Charlie Ngatai – Taranaki – Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Te Whakatōhea (9)
Matt Proctor – Wellington – Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāpuhi (9)
Rob Thompson* – Canterbury – Ngāti Kahungunu
James Lowe – Tasman – Ngāpuhi/Ngāi Te Rangi (5)
Damian McKenzie – Waikato – Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tahinga (3)
Nehe Milner-Skudder – Manawatu – Ngāti Porou/Tapuika (2)
Declan O’Donnell – Taranaki – Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Porou (1)

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