The Māori All Blacks left their boots on the bus today for a Rotorua pōwhiri.

The newly announced squad is in town training, leading up to their first match against the Flying Fijians in Suva next week, before the two teams face off for a second time at the Rotorua International Stadium on July 20.

Te Arawa kaumātua Sir Toby Curtis was at Tametekapua to welcome the players, and the team sang a brief guitar-accompanied waiata for their hosts.

Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan at the pōwhiri. Photo / Stephen Parker
Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan at the pōwhiri. Photo / Stephen Parker

Their coach, Rotorua-raised Clayton McMillan, said many of the 26 players had just finished the Super Rugby season playing for various teams.

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"The first thing we have to take care of is that we are culturally and spiritually connected. When that part is sorted, the rugby takes care of itself. That's why we are here [at Tametekapua] today."

The Māori All Blacks leave the pōwhiri at Tamatekapua. Photo / Stephen Parker
The Māori All Blacks leave the pōwhiri at Tamatekapua. Photo / Stephen Parker

When asked if the wet weather would hinder their training, he said: "No, not at all".

This month's match will be the second time lock Tom Franklin (Ngāti Maniapoto) has played for the Māori All Blacks in the Bay of Plenty, where he grew up.

He was also in the team that played the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua in 2017.

"It makes it a bit more special playing in Rotorua, the hub of Māori culture, and more of my family and friends can come because it's close for them."

The Māori All Blacks greet their Te Arawa hosts. Photo / Stephen Parker
The Māori All Blacks greet their Te Arawa hosts. Photo / Stephen Parker

Franklin, who plays for the Highlanders, is one of four players from the Bay of Plenty area who were named in Māori All Blacks the team this week.

The others were Mitchell Karpik (Chiefs), new cap Nathan Harris (Chiefs) and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs) who is from Rotorua.

Māori All Blacks coach, and hometown man, Clayton McMillan. Photo / Stephen Parker
Māori All Blacks coach, and hometown man, Clayton McMillan. Photo / Stephen Parker

Tickets for the July 20 match are on sale with Ticketek.

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Māori All Blacks Schedule:

V Fiji
Saturday July 13
ANZ Stadium, Suva
V Fiji
Saturday July 20
Rotorua International Stadium

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)