Māori All-Stars coach Stacey Jones is staying tight-lipped about who will captain the side while the players suspect they could unveil a new haka for the clash against the Australian Indigenous All-Stars in Melbourne next Friday night.

Senior forwards and former Kiwi captains Adam Blair and Jesse Bromwich appear front-runners to lead the team but Jones will consult with assistant coaches Nathan Cayless and Mark Horo once they go into camp tomorrow before deciding.

"I haven't put too much thought into it," explained Jones. "I know it's a big occasion and whoever that person may be will be very excited. I'll sit with Nathan and Mark and make that decision next week."

Warriors middle forward Blair is the most experienced campaigner in the Māori line-up, with 289 NRL games and 48 Kiwis test caps. He also captained New Zealand throughout the disastrous 2017 World Cup.


But the 32-year-old downplayed his ambitions to lead the way for the Māori, insisting he was simply thrilled to have been included in Jones' 20-man squad.

"I'm actually just happy to be a part of the team," said Blair.

"When I first heard the concept was going ahead I was most probably the first one to put my hand up just to be selected. Being selected is a great honour anyway but at the moment I'm just happy to be there."

In a busy week full of community events and sponsorship commitments, the Māori will look to squeeze in some training and develop some cohesion, while also spending time reflecting on their culture and learning about the players' varied backgrounds.

Māori cultural authority Ora Kihi — who has previously been involved with the Kiwis, Warriors, and Chiefs Super Rugby team — will facilitate their cultural education and may be developing a new haka for the players to learn.

"That's up to Ora," said Jones. "I'm not sure but I know we've got things in place to practice and make sure they do it. But it's not my area to comment what haka we'll do.

"I've had a few meetings with him about what he wants. He understands the game and understands that we need to get the right balance.

"We've got to add a bit of culture to what we're doing throughout the week and then try and fit in some footy stuff."


Māori and Warriors second-rower Tohu Harris says the players anticipate haka practice will take up a big part of their time.

"Blairy's been talking about that," said Harris. "We seem to think we might be learning a new one but again we're not too sure what the details are and if we will be or not.

"There's going to be some learning next week, I think."

It might be the first hit-out of the season but Harris expects the pre-game haka and Indigenous Australian war cry showdown will set the scene for an intense start to the match.

"Pre-match will be pretty intense with the haka, and I imagine the other Indigenous side will probably do something that represents their culture and there will be a lot of pride out there," he said.

"The game will certainly start with a lot of intensity and it's going to be a clash of cultures and a lot of pride out on the field."