The New Zealand Barbarians have named a strong squad to face the Maori All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, July 18.
The Barbarians side contains George Moala and Tom Taylor, who were both in Samoa with the All Blacks, while veteran All Blacks wing Cory Jane makes his long-awaited comeback from injury.
The clash will be the first between the two teams since the 2010 Maori Centenary Series, when the Maori All Blacks defeated the Barbarians 37-31 in an entertaining affair in Whangarei.
Other features of the squad are the selection of seven players who were involved in last week’s Super Rugby Final, along with All Blacks James Parsons, Luke Whitelock and Dominic Bird, and two out of the World Rugby U20 championship winning New Zealand team – Auckland loose forward Blake Gibson and Taranaki scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
Injury to Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea prevented his selection. The Barbarians will be coached by Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod, along with Hawke’s Bay’s Craig Philpott and Auckland’s Paul Feeney.
“There’s a lot of new, emerging and exciting talent, and some who are currently in the All Blacks environment," McLeod told allblacks.com
"Both Blake and Te Toiroa had outstanding campaigns for the New Zealand U20. It’s Barbarian tradition to have a young guy involved and we felt comfortable with these guys coming in for the two available slots.”
The Barbarians assemble as a full squad in Auckland on Tuesday and have planned a visit to the impressive Barbarians clubrooms at Eden Park to gain a feel for the club and the famous scarlet jersey which they will wear.
“We want the players to understand who they are representing and why, so they will check out the photos and memorabilia on the walls and talk to the club members," said McLeod.
"We want them to feel they are playing for something special and for them to own that performance."
He added that the side will adhere to the traditional Barbarians open rugby, but still with the ultimate aim of winning the clash.
He is under no illusions as to how tough the Maori All Blacks will be, especially as they will be coming off an international against Fiji, to be played tomorrow in Suva.
The President of the Barbarians club, All Blacks great Bryan ‘Beegee’ Williams, is well versed in the history and traditions of the club, and is eagerly looking forward to the match.
“From the Barbarians’ point of view, it is great to have a fixture at Eden Park," he said.
"That is where we are based. Both the Maori All Blacks and New Zealand Barbarians are renowned for enterprising rugby. They have always been crowd-pleasing matches, so get along there!
“One would think it will be a pseudo-All Blacks trial, particularly for some of the hopefuls who want to force their way into the squad. It’s a golden opportunity to show themselves in front of the selectors and the public that they have the wherewithal to make the team.”
New Zealand Barbarians:
Forwards: Mitchell Graham (Taranaki), Reg Goodes (Wellington), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland), Ben Tameifuna (Waikato), Liam Coltman (Otago), James Parsons (North Harbour), Alex Ainley (Tasman), Joseph Wheeler (Tasman), Dominic Bird (Canterbury), Brad Shields (Wellington), Blake Gibson (Auckland), Luke Whitelock (Canterbury), Jordan Taufua (Counties).
Backs: Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury), Te Toiroa Tahuiorangi (Taranaki), Andrew Horrell (Hawke's Bay), Ihaia West (Hawke's Bay), George Moala (Auckland), Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki), Patrick Osborne (Canterbury), Cory Jane (Wellington), Richard Buckman (Hawke's Bay), Tom Taylor (Canterbury).