Rugby: Magpies land high with Maori All Blacks

By Shane Hurndell

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Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford

Hawke's Bay Magpies first five-eighth Ihaia West has received a perfect form of consolation for being shunned by the Super Rugby selectors.

West, 21, and fellow Magpie outside back Zac Guildford, were yesterday named in the Maori All Blacks team to play Canada and the United States next month.

"I'm pretty stoked.

"Hopefully I can have a good couple of games on tour to push my chances for Super selection next year," West said.

He pointed out playing for the Maori All Blacks against tough opposition like Canada and the United States will be a step up from his previous taste of international play as a member of last year's New Zealand under-20 team.

"At the same time I've heard the Maori All Blacks are a pretty special team to be a part of and everyone seems to have an enjoyable time," West said.

He added he will have no problem focusing on the Magpies ITM Cup Championship final against the Tasman Makos in Nelson on Friday night in the wake of yesterday's selection. Like Guildford, West, is confident thoughts of the tour can be shut out until after the final. "We know the final is going to be pretty tough. We came up short last time against Tasman ... now we're looking for a bit of revenge so we can get the Magpies back up to the top division," Guildford said.

Guildford, 24, a four-time world champion (once with the All Blacks and three times at age group level) and a Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medallist is thrilled to be named in the Maori team for the first time. Injury prevented him from playing for the side last year.

"I'm looking forward to the tour with many of my good mates from under-19 and under-20 teams. Hika will be there too," Guildford said referring to former Magpies hooker Hika Elliot.

Guildford quashed rumours suggesting he will be following Magpies flanker Karl Lowe to Japan.

"I will play for the Crusaders and Magpies again next year but after that is wide open at the moment."

Wellington's Tim Bateman will captain the Maori All Blacks. Midfielder Bateman takes over the captaincy from loose forward Tanerau Latimer, who has opted to have surgery on a long-standing injury.

The Maori All Blacks play Canada at Toronto's BMO Field on November 4, and the USA at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, on November 10.

Coach Colin Cooper said: "I am thrilled for Tim to take over the leadership duties. He is a mature young man who leads by example.

"He knows the team culture really well having played for us in recent years so he is a great fit."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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