Throwing himself into training with the Māori All Blacks appears to be the perfect antidote to the disappointment Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi felt after missing out on the All Blacks Rugby Championship squad this week.

Born and raised in Rotorua, Tahuriorangi was back home this week with the Māori All Blacks squad who are preparing for a two-game series with Fiji. Game one is in Suva, Fiji on July 13 before the two teams return to New Zealand to play at Rotorua International Stadium on July 20.

Tahuriorangi recently re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until 2021 and has been on the fringes of the All Blacks squad, playing three times since his debut last year. However, he has fallen behind Chiefs teammates Brad Weber in the halfback pecking order and was deemed surplus to requirements for the upcoming championship meaning he will likely miss the World Cup too.

The blow was softened as days later he was named to represent the Māori All Blacks, which he did previously against the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

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Rotorua Boys' High School old boys Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (left) and Clayton McMillan during Māori All Blacks training in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua Boys' High School old boys Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (left) and Clayton McMillan during Māori All Blacks training in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

The players looked supremely relaxed during an indoor training session at the Rotorua Sportsdrome yesterday and as Tahuriorangi laughed and joked along with his teammates it appeared the recent disappointment was far from his mind.

"I love it ... representing the Māori All Blacks, really being Māori and pushing all the young Māori to try and achieve this team. It's about giving back to our culture and making sure we make our whānau proud.

"I enjoy it every time I get to come home, it's quite rare and just being around my friends and family makes it special."

Despite only having a short time together, he said the players had quickly developed a strong bond.

"It's been really good, we only got into camp yesterday and it's about trying to unite and connect. We had a bit of a powhiri yesterday and after that had some one-on-ones and meetings.

"This morning is pretty much our first training and we're just trying to get the ball moving around, get into our structures and have a bit of fun.

Tahuriorangi and his Chiefs teammates beat the Crusaders in Fiji during the Super Rugby season and he was looking forward to a similar experience.

"It's pretty exciting and obviously this Fijian team are coming off a good win from last year's game against France. We're hoping for a full stadium.

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Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi trains with the Māori All Blacks at the Rotorua Sportsdrome. Photo / Ben Fraser
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi trains with the Māori All Blacks at the Rotorua Sportsdrome. Photo / Ben Fraser

"Some of us have played over there and the culture and the environment are second to none. We're expecting warmer weather than back home but we're just trying to get our week right so we can go over there in the right mindset."

Māori All Blacks assistant coach Roger Randle said the team had come together well and would spend the next few days connecting off the field. He described the games against Fiji, who are ranked ninth in the world and building towards the World Cup, as "a massive challenge".

"We've seen a bit of footage from them and obviously last year they beat France in France which is no easy feat. We're really up for the challenge, that's what we've spoken about in the last 24 hours.

"Our leaders have been around the team for a long time and we've always wanted some quality opposition - we've definitely got that against Fiji."

He was eager to see a packed stadium for the return leg in Rotorua.

"It's not often you get to play in a Māori team in New Zealand so getting our whānau along in support will be massive. We've got a big week in Fiji first and we'll be looking forward to coming home and getting back here."

Māori All Blacks Schedule:

V Fiji

Saturday July 13

ANZ Stadium, Suva

V Fiji
Saturday July 20
Rotorua International Stadium

Māori All Blacks Squad:

Forwards:

Hookers:
Ash Dixon - Ngāti Tahinga (Hawke's Bay/Highlanders)
Nathan Harris - Ngāti Apakura /Tainui (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs)

Props:
Tyrel Lomax - Ngāi Tūhoe/Muaupoko (Tasman/Highlanders)
Ben May - Ngāti Maniapoto (Hawke's Bay/Hurricanes)
Marcel Renata - Ngāti Whānaunga/Ngāi Takoto (Auckland/Blues)
Ross Wright - Ngāti Whatua/Ngāti Porou (Northland/Blues)

Locks:
Tom Franklin - Ngāti Maniapoto (Bay of Plenty/Highlanders)
Pari Pari Parkinson - Te Whānau ā Apanui (Tasman/Highlanders)
Isaia Walker-Leawere - Ngāti Porou (Hawke's Bay/Hurricanes)

Loose Forwards:
Whetukamokamo Douglas - Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Whakaue (Canterbury/Crusaders).
Elliot Dixon - Ngāpuhi (Southland/Highlanders)
Akira Ioane - Ngāpuhi/Te Whānau ā Apanui (Auckland/Blues)
Mitchell Karpik - Rongomaiwahine/Ngāti Kahungunu (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs)
Reed Prinsep - Te Rārawa (Canterbury/Hurricanes)

Backs:

Halfbacks:
Bryn Hall - Ngāti Ranginui (North Harbour/Crusaders)
Jonathan Ruru - Ngāti Kahungunu/Rongomaiwāhine (Auckland/Blues)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi - Ngāti Pikiao (Taranaki/Chiefs)

First five-eighths:
Otere Black - Ngāi Tūhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa (Manawatu/Blues).
Jackson Garden-Bachop - Ngāti Awa (Wellington/Hurricanes)
Fletcher Smith - Ngāti Kahungunu (Waikato/Hurricanes)

Midfielders:
Alex Nankivell - Ngāpuhi (Tasman/Chiefs)
Rob Thompson - Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngā Rauru (Manawatu/Highlanders)
Teihorangi Walden - Te Atiawa (Taranaki/Highlanders)

Outside backs:
Jordan Hyland - Ngāi Tahu (Northland/Highlanders)
Shaun Stevenson - Ngāpuhi (North Harbour/Chiefs)
Sean Wainui - Ngāi Tūhoe/Ngāti Porou (Taranaki/Chiefs)