Kerr-Barlow makes return for Maori

Date published: July 9 2015

Tawera Kerr-Barlow will make his long-awaited return from injury when he starts for the Maori All Blacks against Fiji on Saturday.

The Chiefs scrum-half has been out of action after tearing knee ligaments last October and has been in a battle to be fit for the World Cup ever since.

He looks to be winning that battle and starts at scrum-half alongside one member of two sets of brothers in the Maori team.

Marty McKenzie will be at fly-half, with younger brother Damian at full-back, while the Ioane brothers, Akira and Rieko, will play at blindside flank and on the wing respectively.

Charlie Ngatai will captain the side, fresh from his All Blacks debut against Samoa yesterday.

There are also six players from the Hurricanes and Highlanders who appeared in Saturday’s Super Rugby Final. 

Coach Colin Cooper said the short assembly time had been challenging for the squad, but he was pleased with how quickly the players had gelled as a unit.

"This squad has developed a great spirit very quickly and even though we had a long journey to Suva, we’re in good shape," he explained.

"We’re really looking forward to training today and adapting to the hotter conditions here.

"We have a good mix in the team to take on Fiji. There are players who have come out of the Super Rugby finals series in great nick and those who have had a bit more of a layoff so I think that will work well for us.

"It’s great that we are also able to field some of the exciting, young players we’ve brought into this team and I know Saturday will be a very proud day for them.

"We’re certainly fit and raring to go against what we see is a very strong Fijian team so we'll need to be at our best to honour our record against international teams."

Maori All Blacks: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Charlie Ngatai (c), 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Mitchell Crosswell, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Jacob Skeen, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Otere Black, 23 Jason Emery.

Date: Saturday, July 11
Venue: ANZ National Stadium, Suva
Kick-off: 15:00 local (03:00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Rohan Hoffman (Australia)