The Maori All Blacks team to play Japan in Tokyo in the second match of its 2014 tour features four changes to the starting XV.
The Maori All Blacks team to play Japan in Tokyo in the second match of its 2014 tour features four changes to the starting XV that defeated Japan 61-21 in Kobe last Saturday.
Canterbury hooker Codie Taylor comes into the front row to replace Ash Dixon who fractured his arm in that match and has returned home. Northland loose forward Dan Pryor gets his first start of the tour, as do Taranaki wing Kurt Baker and Manawatu’s Nehe Milner-Skudder at full-back.
Three players look set to earn their first cap with Waikato wing Joe Webber, Taranaki’s Mitch Crosswell and Hawke’s Bay’s Brendon Edmonds being named on the bench.
Coach Colin Cooper said Saturday’s win was very satisfying particularly given the short time the team had been together, but he stressed there was no room for complacency.
“We know Japan will be fired up to put in a much improved performance this Saturday. We will need to do what we did well in the last match and that’s all about being well organised on defence, disciplined in the set piece and fast on the counter attack,” said Cooper.
“We also conceded two penalty tries which is pretty unusual. We’ve spent a bit of time reviewing that this week and hopefully have ironed out issues there.
“We aim to get the simple things right and not over-complicate our approach. That clearly paid off last Saturday so we need to keep our focus on that game plan.
“The boys are travelling well and enjoying the colour and pace of Tokyo. I’ve been impressed with how quickly they have come together as a team and how they’re enjoying the cultural aspects which make the Maori All Blacks so special.
“Sadly we had to send Ash Dixon home. The boys were pretty charged up and farewelled him with a very emotional haka as a mark of respect. I think that really underscored the bonds we’ve built up over the time we’ve been together.”
New Zealand Maori: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Kurt Baker, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Charlie Ngatai (c), 11 James Lowe, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Dan Pryor, 5 Blade Thomson, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 MIke Kainga, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Chris Eves
Replacements: 16 Joe Royal, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Nick Barrett, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Mitch Crosswell, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Joe Webber
Date: Saturday, November 8
Venue: Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo
Kickoff: 14:00 local (05:00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)