Two new caps and one All Black named in Maori All Blacks squad to play Manu Samoa
Norris featured regularly for the Chiefs under the tutelage of McMillan this season and the 21-year-old has been duly rewarded with a maiden call-up to the Maori All Blacks squad.
Australian-born Dickson, meanwhile, has been part of the Highlanders set-up since 2017 and impressed with his strong work ethic on either side of the ball and at the set piece.
The 26-year-old is one of three Highlanders locks, alongside Pari Pari Parkinson and Manaaki Selby-Rickit, included in the squad, while the franchise’s co-captain, Ash Dixon, will lead the Maori All Blacks for a sixth straight campaign.
“Josh has been consistent performer throughout both Super Rugby for the Highlanders and NPC for Otago,” McMillan said.
“He is highly regarded for his ability in the line out and has an established relationship with Ash, Pari Pari and Manaaki. Having combinations like this will be important when preparing for a short campaign.
“Ollie has progressed through New Zealand age group teams and has transitioned really well into Super Rugby. He has a strong set piece, but stood out with his ball playing ability which will suit the style of play we will be hoping to achieve.
Other notable additions in the squad include one-test All Blacks playmaker Josh Ioane, who played against the Maori All Blacks last year for Moana Pasifika when the franchise made its first-ever appearance in a 28-21 defeat in Hamilton.
McMillan said that fixture provided the Maori All Blacks with valuable experience ahead of their upcoming series against Samoa, who are preparing for their World Cup qualifiers against Tonga next month.
“We introduced a number of new players into our environment last year so to have them back for this series is pleasing. I am confident that Ollie and Josh will transition from their Super clubs to our whanau with ease,” McMillan said.
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“We only have a short build up, and we are expecting a fierce challenge from Samoa as they lead into their World Cup qualifying match. We know that will add an extra edge to the match and that is something we are looking forward to.
“Our players have an immense amount of pride pulling on the Maori All Blacks jersey and with that representing their whanau and iwi, and we know that our Samoan brothers feel the same.”
The Maori All Blacks will play their first match against Manu Samoa at Sky Stadium in Wellington next Saturday before the two teams meet again as a curtain-raiser to the All Blacks vs Tonga clash at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 3.
Manu Samoa will then go on to play Tonga in two World Cup qualifiers at Mt Smart Stadium on July 10 and then at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton as a curtain-raiser to the All Blacks vs Fiji test on July 17.
Maori All Blacks squad to face Manu Samoa
Josh Hohneck (Highlanders/Otago)
Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hurricanes/Hawke’s Bay)
Ollie Norris* (Chiefs/Waikato)
Marcel Renata (Blues/Auckland)
Tamaiti Williams (Crusaders/Canterbury)
Ash Dixon (Highlanders/Hawke’s Bay) – captain
Kurt Eklund (Blues/Bay of Plenty)
Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Highlanders/Bay of Plenty)
Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hurricanes/Hawke’s Bay)
Pari Pari Parkinson (Highlanders/Tasman)
Josh Dickson (Highlanders/Otago)
Billy Harmon (Highlanders/Canterbury)
Reed Prinsep (Hurricanes/Canterbury)
Whetukamokamo Douglas (Crusaders/Bay of Plenty)
Bryn Hall (Crusaders/North Harbour)
Sam Nock (Blues/Northland)
Otere Black (Blues/Bay of Plenty)
Josh Ioane (Highlanders/Otago)
Billy Proctor (Hurricanes/Wellington)
Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs/Waikato)
Alex Nankivell (Chiefs/Tasman)
Sean Wainui (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty)
Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs/North Harbour)
Jonah Lowe (Chiefs/Hawke’s Bay)
Kaleb Trask (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty)
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