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All Blacks omission Akira Ioane snapped up by NZ Maori

Blues and Auckland loose forward Akira Ioane has been named in the NZ Maori squad following his omission from the All Blacks 51-man end-of-year touring squad.

The chance to pick Ioane came as a surprise to head coach Clayton McMillan, who jumped at the chance to use the ball-carrying eight.

“We didn’t really anticipate Akira being involved with us and he’s going to be a significant boost for our team,” McMillan said at the announcement of the squad.

“We’re all well aware of his strengths and we’ll welcome him into our fold with open arms.

“He’s been a part of the All Blacks environment for the last 12-18 months.

“We make a few assumptions fairly early on, on who might be available to us and we obviously got that one wrong.”

The 23-year-old older brother of All Blacks wing Rieko hasn’t yet debuted in a test match, featuring as a replacement against the French XV last November.

He will now get the chance to push his claims on tour with the NZ M?ori.

“You would expect all of the All Blacks that come into the environment, who’ve been exposed to a high level of rugby will bring that experience into the Maori All Blacks,” McMillan said.

“He may have a leadership role, but equally we want him to express himself, play well and put himself back in the picture for the All Blacks.

“It had its challenges, but the All Blacks management and coaching staff have been extremely open around who might become available to us, post the Japan commitments,” he said.

“So we feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to name five people that have been named in the All Blacks, to join us post that game.”

The squad includes nine debutants as well as plenty of Super Rugby experience and will be lead by Highlanders and Hawkes Bay hooker, Ash Dixon.

The team will play the USA in Chicago on November 4 followed by stops in Sao Paulo to play Brazil and Chile in Las Condes.

New Zealand M?ori: Chris Eves, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Marcel Renata, Ross Wright, Robbie Abel, Ash Dixon (c), Jackson Hemopo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Billy Harmon, Akira Ioane, Mitchell Karpik, Hoani Matenga, Reed Prinsep, Bryn Hall, Jonathan Ruru, Brad Weber, Otere Black, Joshua Ioane, Matthew Lansdown, Matt Proctor, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Jonah Lowe, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Shaun Stevenson.

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All Blacks omission Akira Ioane snapped up by NZ Maori | RugbyPass