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Six new faces for Mãori All Blacks

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: There are six debutants set to don the Mãori All Blacks jersey for the first time in their first clash against a Japan XV in Tokyo at the Chichibunomiya Stadium this Saturday.


Four of those players were named in the starting line-up with two taking up a spot on the bench.

Laghlan McWhannell, Rivez Reihana, Daniel Rona, and Cole Forbes will be in the starting line-up, while utility forward Max Hicks and outside back Tana Tuhakaraina are among the replacements.

Tuhakaraina, who hails from the Matamata region, has trained with the Chiefs this season as a replacement player.

His consistency for Waikato in the NPC – under the leadership of current Mãori All Black and Waikato head coach Ross Filipo saw him earn selection for this clash.

The second row will see debutant Laghlan McWhannell partner with Isaia Walker-Leawere with pivot Reihana pulling the strings at flyhalf partnering with scrumhalf Sam Nock.

Daniel Rona partners with Chiefs teammate Quinn Tupaea on his inside as the centre combination.


The back three will consist of Baylin Sullivan and Josh Moorby on the wings with Cole Forbes covering at fullback.

A formidable loose forward combination of Billy Harmon and Cameron Suafoa will combine as the starting flanks along with No.8 Cullen Grace.

The experienced Joe Moody returns to the side as the loosehead prop with Marcel Renata at tighthead prop along with hooker Kurt Eklund to make up the front row.

Filipo congratulations the six debutants on their selection – and expects a fast-paced clash between the two sides.


“They are all fully deserving of their selections. I’m really excited for them and their whānau it’s going to be a massive occasion whether they’ve travelled to watch or are watching at home. To cap five debutants in one game is awesome for the team’s growth and I know they will all make a great contribution.

“We are expecting a high-tempo match and we know they have had plenty of preparation time so we will have to be at our best from the very beginning. We are looking forward to the challenge and the team is ready to go,” Filipo said.

The team’s captain will be named by Filipo and the coaching staff at a special team session later today.

Maori All Blacks: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Daniel Rona, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Bailyn Sullivan, 10 Rivez Reihana, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cameron Suafoa, 5 Laghlan McWhannell, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 19 Max Hicks, 20 Te Kamaka Howden, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Tana Tuhakaraina.

Date: Saturday, June 29

Venue: Chichibunomiya Stadium, Tokyo

Kick-off: 19.00 (22.00 NZ time; 10.00 GMT)

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)

Assistant referees: Luc Ramos (France), Damian Schneider (Argentina)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)


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