Maori All Blacks: Brad Weber and TJ Perenara named co-captains for Ireland clash

Colin Newboult

Brad Weber during warm up before the 2021 Rugby Autumn Nations Series match between Italy and All Blacks/New Zealand at the Olimpic Stadium (Stadio Olimpico) in Rome, Italy, on November 6, 2021. (Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto)

Scrum-half Brad Weber is out to show that he still has the qualities to be an international player after being named in the Maori All Blacks XV to face Ireland.

The Chiefs player has been preferred to fellow experienced half-back TJ Perenara in the starting line-up, but both will take on the captaincy responsibility.

Weber and fellow playmaker Perenara have plenty to prove after being left out of the New Zealand squad for the three-Test series with the Irish.

Aaron Smith, Finlay Christie and Folau Fakatava were ultimately selected, but the 31-year-old insists that his international journey is not over.

Know what it takes

“I know what I need to do, I’ve fought back before, so I’ll just do it again,” Weber told reporters.

“You know my story, this is not the first time that I haven’t been selected for the All Blacks. So that’s good for me in that I’ve been here before, I know what it takes.

“They know what I can do, and I’m just going to try and see how good I can get at this game.

“Yeah we play a finite game, at the end of the 80 minutes there’s a winner and there’s a loser, there’s teams that get selected, but me and TJ are playing this game infinitely, every day we’re trying to get better regardless of what happens in terms of selections or results. That’s both of our mindsets at the moment.

“We’re a bit older and more mature now, maybe five or six years ago I might have kicked stones a little bit, but these days I’m a bit more philosophical about that sort of stuff.”

In a strong-looking Maori side, Zarn Sullivan, Shaun Stevenson and Connor Garden-Bachop make up the back three.

Rameka Poihipi and Billy Proctor combine at centre, with Weber and pivot Josh Ioane the half-back duo.

Up front, Cullen Grace gets an opportunity at number eight and is joined in the back-row by Billy Harmon and Blues rookie Cameron Suafoa.

Meanwhile, the front five sees Isaia Walker-Leawere and Josh Dickson line up at lock, with Ollie Norris, Kurt Eklund and Tyrel Lomax the front-row trio.

“The Māori All Blacks have always been a team I’ve enjoyed playing for, and every time I get in here I learn a lot,” Weber added.

“I’ve always known about my Māori history… but also a lot of my cousins are starting to do dig a bit deeper and find out more, ever since a couple of them have played some Māori hockey and stuff like that, it’s kind of spurned a lot of us on to try and learn more, rather than just knowing that it’s there.”

Maori All Blacks: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Connor Garden-Bachop, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Brad Weber (cc), 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cameron Suafoa, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ollie Norris
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Maanaki Selby-Rickit, 20 TK Howden, 21 TJ Perenara (cc), 22 Ruben Love, 23 Bailyn Sullivan

Date: Wednesday, June 29
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Jordan Way (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

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