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Ireland to play midweek games against Maori in expanded tour of NZ

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland will face off against the Maori All Blacks in two mid-week fixtures on this year’s July tour in addition to their three Test Series against the All Blacks.

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Ireland will bring an expanded squad to cater for the two mid-week matches.

The Maori All Blacks have played Ireland on two previous occasions, the most famous being the New Zealander’s 13-4 win at Landsdowne Road in Dublin in 1888.

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The only other match between the two sides was in 2010 at Rotorua International Stadium where the Maori All Blacks won a thrilling match 31-28.

“The Maori All Blacks will provide a stern test of our squad strength and depth,” said Ireland head coach Andy Farrell. “They are effectively a Test match side that have a proud tradition and impressive record of results. This tour is a huge opportunity for the group to develop and test itself against the best in their own backyard. Playing five games against such quality opposition will be of huge benefit to the group as we tour for the first time since 2018.”

The first match against the Maori All Blacks kicks off the summer tour at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Wednesday 29 June (8.05am GMT/7.05pm NZ) while the second game in the series against the Maori All Blacks takes place following the second Test in Dunedin and will be held at the Sky Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday 12 July (8.05am GMT/7.05pm NZ)).

Maori All Blacks Head Coach Clayton McMillan said: “We look forward to welcoming Ireland, their players, management, and fans to Aotearoa, sharing our respective cultures, and celebrating our rich histories through rugby. Our rivalry goes back more than 100 years and that will only add to the occasion. To play the world’s fourth ranked team in a two-match series is an exciting prospect and we expect both games to be huge challenges.”

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McMillan will name his squad in June which will include a new captain after respected hooker Ash Dixon’s departure for Japan last year.

“Playing in Aotearoa is always special, and we know we have huge support in both Te Whanganui a Tara and Kirikiriroa. We’re looking forward to spending time in those communities, connecting with the region’s local Iwi, Maori, Maori All Blacks fans and putting out a performance our whanau and fans can be proud of.”

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