A national Under-18 Maori Rugby Development team has been selected for the first time.
The team will play a curtain-raiser match before the Bay of Plenty Steamers v Auckland match in round six of the Mitre 10 Cup on Sunday, September 25.
The side will play a Bay of Plenty Maori Te Waiariki U19 team at Rotorua International Stadium at 2pm.
Bay of Plenty is represented by Ronin Ainsley from Tauranga's Te Wharekura o Mauao, Blake Bird from Rotorua Boys' High School and Devin Te Tai from Whakatane Marist.
The Maori team announced by deputy chairman of the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board, Peter Goldsmith, is made up of talented school age boys who have been part of New Zealand Rugby's E Tu Toa rugby development programme in 2016.
The team will be coached by Rua Wanoa (Ngati Porou), Reuben Parkinson (Te Whanau-a-Apanui) and supported by Anthony Rehutai (Ngati Porou), and Kahu Carey (Rangitane/Ngati Apa) with manager Mark Seymour (Ngati Hikairo).
Goldsmith said the development of Maori rugby at the youth level was a big focus for the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board.
"We're dedicated to developing our future talent and this team provides an opportunity for young Maori who have missed out on the New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Barbarians Schools to be recognised.
"The boys in this team are outstanding rugby players and our goal is to keep them involved in the sport and striving to be better. This team gives them another opportunity to develop their skills and gain experience."