Rugby: Four debutants in NZ Maori side

Fullback Robbie Robinson is one of four new players named to start for the NZ Maori against the Barbarians on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Fullback Robbie Robinson is one of four new players named to start for the NZ Maori against the Barbarians on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

At least four players will debut for the New Zealand Maori rugby team against the New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday.

Coach Jamie Joseph today named a team featuring four newcomers among the starting 15 and another five on the reserves bench.

Starting for New Zealand Maori for the first time are Southland fullback Robbie Robinson, Wellington lock Daniel Ramsay, Waikato midfield back Jackson Willison and Canterbury wing Sean Maitland.

Newcomers hoping for game time off the bench are Wellington hooker Dane Coles, North Harbour prop Ben Afeaki, Waikato lock Romana Graham, Bay of Plenty loose forward Colin Bourke and Manawatu halfback Aaron Smith.

The Maori side boast plenty of experience, however, in the form of a number of players who have played for the All Blacks, among them wing Hosea Gear, second five-eighth Luke McAlister, hooker Corey Flynn and loose forwards Tanerau Latimer and Liam Messam.

Joseph is looking forward to the first game in a three-match programme put together to celebrate New Zealand Maori's centenary season.

"The Barbarians have named a strong squad with a big forward pack and we know this will be a physical game that will provide us with a good challenge," he said.

"We have begun our preparations well and everyone is looking forward to getting this tour off to a good start.

"It is also going to be really special for those debutants to get out there and represent their whanau and they are lucky enough to be flanked by some experienced players for this match."

New Zealand Maori also play Ireland at Rotorua on June 18 before playing England at Napier five days later.

New Zealand Maori
Robbie Robinson, Sean Maitland, Jackson Willison, Luke McAlister, Hosea Gear, Stephen Brett, Chris Smylie, Liam Messam (captain), Tanerau Latimer, Jarrad Hoeata, Daniel Ramsay, Isaac Ross, Clint Newland, Corey Flynn, Bronson Murray.

Reserves: Dane Coles, Ben Afeaki, Romana Graham, Hayden Triggs, Colin Bourke, Aaron Smith, Dwayne Sweeney.

- NZPA

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