Māori v Manu Samoa - teams and prediction
MT SMART DOUBLE HEADER: The New Zealand Māori and Samoa coaches named their teams for their encounter in Auckland on Saturday.
The match is a curtain-raiser to the first Test of the year in New Zealand – when the All Blacks take on Tonga in the main match.
Māori coach Clayton McMillan named an impressive team to challenge Manu Samoa.
The side will welcome the return of towering lock Pari Pari Parkinson and debuting loosehead prop Ollie Norris.
In the front row, Tamaiti Williams will start at loosehead prop, with Norris covering on the bench.
Experienced campaigners, tighthead prop Josh Hohneck and Ash Dixon will complete the front row.
Blues hooker Kurt Eklund and fellow teammate, tighthead prop Marcel Renata remain unchanged on the bench.
Highlanders locking duo of Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Parkinson will start, with Josh Dickson and Isaia Walker-Leawere to provide impact off the bench.
An unchanged loose forward combination of Reed Prinsep and Billy Harmon will take the field with Whetukamokamo Douglas rounding out the forward pack at No.8.
In the backs, Sam Nock is given the opportunity to showcase his talent at scrumhalf. Nock will combine with experienced flyhalf Otere Black.
Instrumental scrumhalf Bryn Hall will provide a competitive edge when he is injected into the game off the bench.
The hardworking midfield combination of Alex Nankivell and Billy Proctor will once again line up to start. Covering the duo will be Rameka Poihipi, who will be given the opportunity to display his craft off the bench.
Sean Wainui holds his starting spot on the left wing, while fellow Chiefs’ teammate Jonah Lowe will start on the right.
Utility back Josh Ioane shifts moves into the starting fifteen, to start at fullback, with Chiefs’ utility back Shaun Stevenson ably providing cover for the back three, named in jersey No.23.
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“We wanted to give everyone in our 26-man squad the opportunity to pull on the Māori jersey,” Māori coach McMillan said.
“This weekend, Ollie, Pari and Rameka get that chance.
“It has been a special time for the Norris brothers. Last week Jacob debuted and this week it is his younger brother that gets the opportunity. Ollie has had a successful Super Rugby campaign for the Chiefs, and this is his chance to step up to the next level,” said McMillan.
McMillan excited for the return of Parkinson in the Māori All Blacks jersey, is expecting his towering presence will be an asset on the park.
“Pari, last played in the Māori All Blacks jersey, when the team took on Fiji, in Rotorua. He was immense that game, provided a huge presence against Fiji and we are looking for a similar game from him on Saturday.”
The Māori All Blacks last played at Mt Smart Stadium when they hosted Manu Samoa in 1996.
Saturday’s game will mark the Māori All Blacks 125th international match.
It will be a special occasion for Black who will make the move to Japan at the end of the season. McMillan said Black is an exceptionally talent Māori rugby player.
“His knowledge of tikanga Māori, passion for the jersey and contribution to this team is immense. It will be a special occasion on Saturday for Otere and his whānau, and we know both him and the team are wanting to deliver a memorable conference.”
The Māori were too strong for a Samoan side making its first appearance since the 2019 World Cup, winning the first encounter 35–10 in Wellington last Saturday. They are likely to be too strong again.
@rugby365com: Maori by 18 points
Māori: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Tamaiti Williams.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Josh Dickson, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Manu Samoa: 15 Ah See Tuala, 14 Elisapeta Alofipo, 13 Losi Filipo, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 Rodney Iona, 9 Auvasa Falealii, 8 Henry Time-Stower, 7 Alamanga Motuga, 6 Samuel Slade, 5 Theodore McFarland, 4 Benjamin Nee-Nee, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Albert Anae.
Replacements: 16 JP Sauni, 17 Tietie Tuimauga, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Teofilo Paulo, 20 Genesis Mamea-Lemalu, 21 Jonathan Taumatene, 22 D’Angelo Leuila, 23 Joe Perez.
Date: Saturday, July 3
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Kick-off: 16.30 (17.30 Samoa time; 04.30 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Paul Williams
TMO: Shane McDermott