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Super Rugby champs bolster Maori All Blacks

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Māori All Black selectors Ross Filipo, Roger Randle, Greg Feek and Jamie Joseph have announced a 28-strong squad ahead of the team’s two-match series against Japan XV in Japan.

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Fresh from their Super Rugby Pacific win, seven Blues players have been rewarded for their form, with Corey Evans, Cole Forbes and Laghlan McWhannell selected for the first time. Marcel Renata and Cameron Suafoa have also earned selection following a remarkable season with the Blues.

Crusaders stalwart Joe Moody will don the Māori All Blacks jersey for the first time since 2015. Moody will add to an already formidable forward pack alongside Billy Harmon Isaia Walker-Leawere and Pouri Rakete-Stones who represent a wealth of experience, leadership and guidance in the squad.

Among the debutants is midfielder Daniel Rona and Highlanders loose forward Nikora Broughton. The elusive flyhalf duo of Rivez Reihana and Taha Kemara will also bring plenty of speed and accuracy to the back line in their first campaign.

Māori All Blacks head coach Filipo said it is an exciting time for all those involved.

“The Super Rugby Pacific campaign provided us with a solid platform to select from as the competitiveness shown by the players is exactly what we need against Japan XV. Our new players have been rewarded for their consistency and it’s great to see the return of many others to this environment.

“I’d like to congratulate every player in our squad on their selection. Playing for this team is a huge honour and this is an opportunity for us all to represent our whānau, heritage and country on the world stage,” Filipo said.

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New Zealand Māori Rugby Board Chair, Farah Palmer said the Māori All Blacks serve a greater purpose than rugby.

“One of our pou in the New Zealand Māori Rugby strategy is Angitutanga – uplifting Māori lives. We want Māori to be successful as Māori and to pursue excellence and we know they will represent our culture with mana on the international stage.

“On behalf of the Māori Rugby Board I’d like to congratulate every player and their whānau on making the Māori All Blacks. We are immensely proud of you and cannot wait to support you all in this campaign,” Palmer said.

The Māori All Blacks have assembled in Auckland to start their campaign preparations before heading to Japan on Wednesday, June 26.

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They will play their first match at Tokyo’s historic Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium on Saturday, June 29.

The following match on will take place on Saturday, July 6 in Aichi.

Māori All Blacks Squad 2024:

Forwards: Benet Kumeroa, Joe Moody, Marcel Renata, Ollie Norris, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Kurt Eklund, Tyrone Thompson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Laghlan McWhannell, Max Hicks, Tahlor Cahill, Billy Harmon, Cameron Suafoa, Cullen Grace, Nikora Broughton, Te Kamaka Howden

Backs: Sam Nock, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Rivez Reihana, Taha Kemara, Bailyn Sullivan, Corey Evans, Daniel Rona, Rameka Poihipi, Quinn Tupaea, Cole Forbes, Josh Moorby, Tana Tuhakaraina.

Unavailable for selection due to injury: Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Shaun Stevenson, Jared Profitt.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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