Maori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan has named eight new caps in a 24-strong squad to prepare for a one-off match on December 5 against Moana Pasifika in Hamilton. Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon will captain the side. Among the newcomers is the all-new midfield trio of Billy Proctor, 21, and former Hamilton Boys’ High School first XV teammates Quinn Tupaea, 21, and Rameka Poihipi, 22. Full-back Kaleb Trask is also 21.

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There are also four new faces in the forwards where 20-year-old Canterbury prop Taimati Williams is joined by Crusaders and North Harbour loose forward Ethan Roots, Bay of Plenty and Blues prop Kurt Eklund and Southland and Highlanders lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit. One other player will be added to the squad in coming days.

“It’s an exciting group and the eight new caps bring some genuine excitement and energy to the squad,” said Maori boss McMillan. “There is a new generation of Maori players coming through, but also there are some great leaders around them with a vast amount of experience.”

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That experience includes captain Dixon, who has led Hawke’s Bay to this weekend’s Mitre 10 Cup Championship final, as well as former All Black Liam Messam (36), who will play his first match for the Maori All Blacks since facing the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua in 2017, and Otago prop Josh Hohneck who last wore the Maori jersey in 2015.

“It’s great to have the mana of players like Liam and Josh back in the playing group, and likewise Tony Brown brings a huge amount of knowledge to our coaching team and also a passion as someone who has worn the Maori All Blacks jersey.”

Dixon added: “This year has been challenging for a lot of people across our communities in New Zealand and to have the chance to represent the Maori All Blacks in the heart of Waikato-Tainui and the Kingitanga for the only time in 2020 will be a huge honour for us as players, our whanau and our iwi.

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“It will be a celebration and connection of culture in Hamilton, but we know Moana Pasifika is a talented, passionate and physical opponent so expect there will be a real edge in both camps.”

MAORI ALL BLACKS SQUAD (vs Moana Pasifika)

Props

Josh Hohneck, Otago, Ng?ti Manuhiri/Ng?ti Wh?tua

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Pouri Rakete-Stones, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ng?puhi

Marcel Renata, Auckland/Blues, Ng?ti Wh?naunga/Ng?i Takoto

*Tamaiti Williams, Canterbury, Ng?puhi

Hookers

Ash Dixon (c), Hawkes Bay/Highlanders, Ng?ti Tahinga

*Kurt Eklund, Bay of Plenty/Blues, Ng?puhi

Locks

*Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Southland/Highlanders, Ng?ti Raukawa

Isaia Walker-Leawere, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ng?ti Porou

Loose Forwards

Billy Harmon, Canterbury/Crusaders, Ng?i Tahu

Reed Prinsep, Canterbury/Hurricanes, Te R?rawa

Liam Messam, Waikato, Ng?i Tuhoe

Whetukamokamo Douglas, Canterbury/Crusaders, Ng?ti Porou/Ng?ti Whakaue

*Ethan Roots, North Harbour/Crusaders, Ng?ti Kahungunu

Half Backs

Bryn Hall, North Harbour/Crusaders, Ng?ti Ranginui

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, Ng?ti Pikiao

First five-eighths

Otere Black, Bay of Plenty/Blues, Ng?i Tuhoe/Te Wh?nau ? Apanui/Ng?ti T?wharetoa

Fletcher Smith, Waikato/Hurricanes, Ng?ti Kahungunu

Midfield

*Billy Proctor, Wellington/Hurricanes, Ngai Te Rangi/Ng?puhi

*Rameka Poihipi, Canterbury, Ng?ti Whakaue

*Quinn Tupaea, Waikato/Chiefs, Waikato/Tainui

Outside Backs

Sean Wainui, Taranaki/Chiefs, Ng?i Tuhoe/Te ?itanga a M?haki/Ng? Arikikaiputahi/Ng?ti Porou

Shaun Stevenson, North Harbour/Chiefs, Ng?puhi

Jonah Lowe, Hawkes Bay/Hurricanes, Ng?ti Pikiao

*Kaleb Trask, Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, Ng?puhi

Head Coach – Clayton, McMillan, Ng?i Te Rangi/Ng?i Tamawhariua/Te Rangaihouhiri

Assistant Coaches – Roger Randle, Ng?ti Awa; Tony Brown (Ng?puhi)

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