Damian McKenzie to start at first five for Maori

first_imgCoach Colin Cooper has named All Blacks Akira Ioane, Tawera Kerr Barlow and Rieko Ioane in his starting fifteen along with Nehe Milner Skudder.Hawke’s Bay’s Ash Dixon will captain the side which features just two new caps in reserves, Bryn Hall and Rob Thompson.”We’ve named a strong group who all have good clarity on how we want to play this match against the Lions. We feel Damian will suit the game plan that we want to play, from the number 10 position, “Cooper said he was pleased with the way the players had connected throughout the week.”We experienced a powerful pōwhiri on Monday which really resonated with the boys and it’s been great to be here in Rotorua and feel all the support. It’s really lifted the team and helped bring them together as a unit.”We recognise the challenge that is ahead of us on Saturday, but we’re really excited as a group by the opportunity we have to represent New Zealand, Māoridom and the fans that will descend on Rotorua this weekend.”Maori team is (*denotes new cap);1. Kane Hames – Tasman (Ngāi Tuhoe/Ngāti Porou)2. Ash Dixon (captain) – Hawke’s Bay (Ngāti Tahinga)3. Ben May – Hawke’s Bay (Ngāti Maniapoto/Tainui)4. Joe Wheeler – Tasman (Ngāi Tahu)5. Tom Franklin – Bay of Plenty (Ngāti Maniapoto)6. Akira Ioane – Auckland (Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui)7. Elliot Dixon – Southland (Ngāpuhi)8. Liam Messam – Waikato (Ngāi Tūhoe)9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Waikato (Waikato/Ngāti Maniapoto)10. Damian McKenzie – Waikato (Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tahinga)11. Rieko Ioane – Auckland (Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui)12. Charlie Ngatai – Taranaki (Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Te Whakatōhea)13. Matt Proctor – Wellington (Ngāpuhi/Ngāiterangi)14. Nehe Milner-Skudder – Manawatu (Ngāti Porou/Tapuika)15. James Lowe – Tasman (Ngāpuhi/Ngāi Te Rangi)Reserves16. Hikawera Elliot – Counties Manukau (Ngāti Awa)17. Chris Eves – Manawatu (Waikato/Tainui)18. Marcel Renata – Auckland (Ngāti Whānaunga/Te Aupouri19. Leighton Price – Taranaki (Waikato/Ngāti Maniapoto)20. Kara Pryor – Northland (Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāti Rangitihi)21. Bryn Hall* – North Harbour (Ngāti Ranginui)22. Ihaia West – Hawke’s Bay (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Porou)23. Rob Thompson* – Canterbury (Ngāti Kahungunu)  Photo: Photosport Damian McKenzie evades a tackle at Soldier Field, 2016.last_img read more