Maori All Blacks pick 10 debutants

Date published: October 30 2014

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Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper has named 10 debutants in his matchday squad for Saturday’s clash with Japan in Kobe.

Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper has named 10 debutants in his matchday squad for Saturday’s clash with Japan in Kobe.

In the starting XV, Bay of Plenty tight head prop Mike Kainga, Otago lock Tom Franklin, Auckland flanker Sean Polwart are the newbies in the pack while centre Manawatu Jason Emery and Tasman wing James Lowe are the debutants in the back-line.

There are also five new faces on the replacements bench. They are: Canterbury hooker Codie Taylor, Hawke’s prop Brendon Edmonds, Northland flanker Dan Pryor, Taranaki fly-half Marty McKenzie and Manawatu full-back Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Cooper is pleased with how quickly the team had gelled given the short assembly time with most of the 27 strong squad only coming together last weekend.

“Many players have come off a pretty intense few weekends of rugby so we’ve been mindful to not over-burden them,” he said.

“There has been a lot to take in, particularly given how we want to work together blending our Maori culture with our high performance team culture.

“The boys have coped well with the long flight and have quickly settled into their routines here in Kobe.

“We are gradually lifting the intensity of training, but our main driver has been to keep things simple.

“We know we are up for a tough challenge with Japan as the 11th ranked team in the world so it’s important we get the basics right and ensure we gel together as a team very quickly.

“I congratulate the players who will wear the Maori All Blacks jersey for the first time.

“This is a proud moment for them and I know they and the rest of the team will be working hard to honour our legacy.”

New Zealand Maori: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Charlie Ngatai (c) 11 James Lowe, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Mike Kainga, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Nick Barrett, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Date: Saturday, November 1
Kick-off: 15:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Venue: Noevir Stadium, Kobe
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardne (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

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