The New Zealand Maori Rugby Board has named a strong Maori All Blacks squad to take on Canada and the United States next month.
World Cup winners Piri Weepu, Zac Guildford and Corey Flynn are amongst six former All Blacks, and 11 players who played for the Maori All Blacks last year who have been included in a 26-man squad which will be captained by Wellington and Hurricanes centre Tim Bateman.
The squad departs for North America on Monday 28 October.
Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper said he was pleased to take a squad boasting an exciting mix of experience and young talent.
"I'm really excited about this tour and the opportunities it gives young players to press for higher honours, as well as the chance to honour the proud legacy of the teams that have gone before," he told allblacks.com
"New Zealand Rugby has identified the Maori All Blacks as a high performance team and our selections reflect that.
"We have experienced campaigners like Hika Elliott and Piri Weepu as well as young up and comers like Ihaia West and Liam Squire so the side has great balance.
"While our time together is short, we are very determined to build on our international record and make the most of the matches against Canada and the United States.
"These are great times for the Maori All Blacks. We going to a part of the world which offers huge opportunities for New Zealand rugby and for our national teams to connect with more fans."
26-year-old Bateman takes over the captaincy from Tanerau Latimer who was unavailable as he is due to have surgery on a long standing injury.
"I am thrilled for Tim to take over the leadership duties - he is a mature young man who leads by example," added Cooper.
"He knows the team culture really well having played for us in recent years so he is a great fit.
"I'm disappointed for Tanerau, but fully respect his reasons to step away for this tour."
Maori All Blacks squad:
Forwards: Hika Elliott (Counties Manukau), Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Ben Afeaki (North Harbour),Nick Barrett (Southland), Chris Eves (Manawatu), Kane Hames (Bay of Plenty), Joe Royal (Bay of Plenty), Jarrad Hoeata (Taranaki), Luke Katene (Canterbury), Joe Wheeler (Tasman), Luke Braid (Auckland), Shane Christie (Tasman), Elliot Dixon (Southland), Liam Squire (Tasman), Blade Thomson (Taranaki).
Backs: Jamison Gibson-Park (Taranaki), Piri Weepu (Auckland), Ihaia West (Hawke's Bay), Tim Bateman (Wellington), Charlie Ngatai (Wellington), Jackson Willison (Waikato), Kurt Baker (Taranaki), Zac Guildford (Hawke's Bay), Robbie Robinson (Southland), Andre Taylor (Taranaki), Matt Proctor (Welliington).
November 2 v Canada, Toronto
November 9 v United States, Philadelphia