THE Maori All-Blacks have included six new caps in their squad for next month’s tour which includes a fixture against Munster at Thomond Park on Friday, November 11.
The new caps with the Maori All-Blacks include this year’s New Zealand Under-20 captain, Wellington’s Leni Apisai.
Two All Blacks are in the 26-man squad. Half-back Brad Weber played a Test off the bench against Samoa last year, while prop Kane Hames did the same against Australia in Sydney two months ago.
Five of the six uncapped players are forwards, along with Tasman halfback Billy Guyton. The other five new faces are Wellington hooker Leni Apisai, Northland flanker Kara Pryor, Canterbury flanker Reed Prinsep, Taranaki lock Leighton Price and Waikato lock/flanker Whetu Douglas.
The Northern Hemisphere tour commences with the Maori All Blacks taking on the USA Eagles in Chicago on Friday November 4 in an historic double header ‘Rugby Weekend’ with the All-Blacks playing Joe Schmidt’s Ireland at Chicago's Soldier Field stadium the following evening.
Since the redevelopment of Thomond Park in 2008, Munster Rugby have hosted international opposition in the form of the All Blacks, Australia and now the Maori All Blacks.
Confirming details of his squad to travel, Maori All-Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper said: “This is an exciting time for all those involved in this special team.
“We’re delighted with the squad we have announced today – we think there’s an incredible mix of experience and very wise heads, and a special crop of new talent that has been exciting to watch in action in Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup.
“This team continues to be an important opportunity for players looking to push for higher honours.
“We continue to work closely with the All Blacks coaches to ensure that we are aligned and these selections demonstrate the strength of the Maori All Blacks as a high performance team.”
“Our matches against Munster and Harlequins will also be very special as we love taking the Maori All Blacks’ style of rugby to other countries.”
Five players still involved in Mitre 10 Cup Finals will join the squad in Auckland after their matches this weekend.
Maori All Blacks touring squad: Marty McKenzie, James Lowe, Sean Wainui, Jason Emery, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, Ihaia West, Otere Black, Brad Weber, Billy Guyton, Whetu Douglas, Akira Ioane, Kara Pryor, Shane Christie, Reed Prinsep, Leighton Price, Jacob Skeen, Tom Franklin, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Chris Eves, Kane Hames, Marcel Renata, Ash Dixon (c), Leni Apisai, Joe Royal.
Maori All Blacks 2016 Match schedule
Friday, November 4 v USA Eagles, Toyota Park, Chicago; Friday, November 11 v Munster, Thomond Park, Limerick; Wednesday, 16 November v Harlequins, Twickenham Stoop, London