NZ Maori cancel Singapore match

Date published: October 21 2014

The Maori All Blacks squad to take on Japan next month was named in Wellington on Tuesday and features 11 new caps.

The Maori All Blacks squad to take on Japan next month was named in Wellington on Tuesday and features 11 new caps.

The team will be captained by Chiefs back Charlie Ngatai with Tasman loose forward Shane Christie as vice-captain.

While New Zealand Rugby has yet to receive official confirmation, the planned match in Singapore against the Asia Pacific Dragons on 15 November, will not proceed due to pitch issues at the National Stadium.

New Zealand Rugby was very disappointed the match against the Asia Pacific Dragons had to be cancelled.

“We feel somewhat let down that this has happened at this late stage,” said New Zealand Rugby General Manager Planning and Operations Nigel Cass.

“However, the safety of our players is paramount and we were unable to get the assurances we needed that the pitch was playable.

“We think Singapore has huge potential for rugby and we remain very keen to play our part in developing the game there. We are certainly committed to coming back at some point to play this important match and in the meantime hope to take some players there after Japan to undertake community and other activities.”

The 27-strong squad departs for its first ever visit to Japan on Monday 27 October. The team plays Japan on Saturday, 1 November at Noevair Stadium, Kobe and on Saturday, 8 November at Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo. Players not considered because of injury were Hika Elliott, Ben Afeaki and Luke Braid.

Coach Colin Cooper said he was pleased with the mix of youth and experience in the 2014 squad, which includes 16 players who took part in last year’s North American Tour.

“We have some exciting young players keen to make their mark like Joe Webber and Marty McKenzie who are capped for the first time, plus some very experienced older hands like Shane Christie and Elliot Dixon, so it’s a very well balanced side.

“The team has a proud legacy and an enviable record against national teams so I am sure all 27 players will be working hard to ensure this tour honours that legacy.

“We are very conscious that this team plays an important role in New Zealand Rugby’s high performance strategy so our selections are very much guided by that. We certainly see this tour as a valuable opportunity for players to show what they can do on the international stage.”

NZ Maori squad: Joe Royal, Ash Dixon, Codie Taylor, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Nicholas Barrett, Brendon Edmonds, Tom Franklin, Joseph Wheeler, Shane Christie (vc), Blade Thomson, Liam Squire, Elliot Dixon, Sean Polwart, Dan Pryor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Chris Smylie, Ihaia West, Marty McKenzie, Jason Emery, Charlie Ngatai (c), James Lowe, Matt Proctor, Kurt Baker , Joe Webber, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Robbie Robinson