The Maori All Blacks have been bolstered with head coach Clayton McMillan adding Cullen Grace (back-row), Sam Nock (scrum-half) and Max Hicks (second-row) to his 28-man squad ahead of next Wednesday’s opening clash with Ireland in Hamilton.
Grace is a one-Test All Black who made his international debut against the Wallabies in Brisbane in 2020. This, after he became the youngest player to be named in New Zealand’s Super Rugby squads for 2020 when he represented the Crusaders.
He helped the Christchurch-based outfit to victory in the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific tournament and is a Maori All Blacks debutant.
Nock is no stranger to the Maori All Blacks as he made his debut for the team in 2018 and he was part of the Blues’ squad who finished as runners-up in Super Rugby Pacific.
He came on as a replacement in Saturday’s final against the Crusaders at Eden Park and has also shone for Northland in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship (NPC).
Hicks is also called up to the Maori All Blacks squad for the first time and earns his call-up after impressing for Tasman Mako in last year’s NPC. He also made his Super Rugby Pacific debut for the Highlanders this year.
McMillan is delighted to have Grace, Nock and Hicks included in his squad and is keen to work with them.
“It’s great to have three quality additions to the wider squad,” he said. “We welcome back Sam Nock and the two debutants Cullen Grace and Max Hicks. These guys will give us more flexibility to prepare and put up our best performance against the top tier team Ireland over the coming weeks.”
The Maori All Blacks will host Andy Farrell’s Ireland side in two midweek encounters with the other fixture set to take place in Wellington on Tuesday, July 12.