Rugby: Murray keen to claim Taniwha ton

By Peter Thorley

With just a few games left to complete a century of games for Northland, reaching that landmark is definitely one thing on Bronson Murray's rugby bucket list - which is music to the ears of Northland fans.

The popular prop has just left to tour England with the Maori All Blacks but was emphatic about attaining the ton.

"I definitely want to knock those three games off at some stage - it would be a bit of a shame not to get to that 100 mark - so hopefully that's an option in the future," he said.

A spell at home working on the family farm has proved useful for the Whangape born and bred player as he was pronounced fit just in time to board a flight for the end of year Maori tour.

The 1.84m prop injured his neck playing for the Highlanders towards the end of the Super 15 season and for a while the injury looked serious.

"I missed the ITM Cup with a bulge in my neck that jammed up one of my nerves, so it was touch and go whether I would need surgery," he said after the Maori All Blacks' first training session on Sunday.

"It's not like an ankle where you can keep on strapping it. There's definitely a danger involved with playing when your neck is not 100 per cent."

The 29-year-old has been a Super Rugby regular since debuting for the Blues in 2008. He has played for the Crusaders and more recently the Highlanders under Jamie Joseph and said getting a clear scan was a big relief for him.

"It's turned out a lot better than it could have, so I'm stoked, especially because I could be part of this tour. Playing for the Maori is special. It's definitely something about the environment and the team itself."

To be able to add to his nine caps for the Maori, and to tour with some good mates on the team and coaching staff, including mentor Joseph, is a bonus.

All three of the Ngapuhi players in the team were part of the Highlanders this year.

"Elliot Dixon and Kurt Baker were both down here and Elliot came up north with me at the end of the Super season for a week because his family is from around Waimamaku and he comes up every now and then to visit," Murray said.

The laid-back Murray isn't too worried about being without a Super Rugby or even an ITM Cup contract and believes the tour could open up opportunities. He couldn't have asked for a better way to get back into rugby and is looking forward to the tour.

The 26-strong squad left for England on Tuesday for a three-match tour with matches against Leicester Tigers on November 13, an RFU Championship XV six days later, and Canada in England at Oxford University on November 23.

Maori All Blacks squad: Hika Elliot, Romana Graham, Ben Afeaki (Ngati Awa), Quentin McDonald (Rangitane), Ben May (Ngati Maniapoto), Bronson Murray, Elliot Dixon, Kurt Baker (Ngapuhi), Jacob Ellison, Nick Crosswell, Jamison Gibson-Park (Ngati Porou), Jarrad Hoeata, Karl Lowe (Ngati Kahungunu), Jason Eaton (Ngati Apa), Ross Filipo (Muaupoko), Tanerau Latimer (captain, Te Arawa), Shane Christie (Ngati Kura), Frae Wilson (Ngati Rangi), Willie Ripia (Ngai Tuhoe), Tim Bateman (Ngai Tahu), Jackson Willison (Ngati Muhuta), Charles Ngatai (Te Whanau a Apanui), Declan O'Donnell, Andre Taylor (Ngati Tuwharetoa), Trent Renata (Ngati Maru), Kade Poki (Te Ati Awa).

- Northern Advocate

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