Eligibility questions surrounding some players picked for the New Zealand Maori rugby side have been fended off by team manager Peter Potaka, who says critics had better get used to it.

Potaka said NZ Maori players had to prove Maori ancestry, which was verified, before being considered for selection.

His comments followed criticism by Australia-born Waratahs rugby centre Morgan Turinui, whose father is Maori.

The Maori play the Waratahs in Sydney tomorrow.

Turinui labelled the New Zealand Maori a glorified invitation team.

"We do laugh sometimes. [Lock] Paul Tito is a redhead and [former first five-eighths] Tony Brown is a 5ft 8in blond, there are a few Samoan and Tongan descent players ... so I think it's more a New Zealand invitational team than anything," Turinui told Fox Sports.

The criticism has been echoed by former New Zealand Maori and All Black Bill Bush.

Bush said the New Zealand Rugby Union were using the New Zealand Maori side to blood new players or to give leading contenders an opportunity to play international opposition.

He said questions remained around at least 10 players named in the recent squad.

"I don't want to get into names, it is not the players' fault, they are being pressured by the NZRU."

He said Christian Cullen and Darryl Williams, who was of Fijian descent, were recent examples of players donning the New Zealand Maori jersey without any Maori ancestry.

"I don't know about this Tasesa Lavea, has he got any Maori in him?"

Potaka said the Maori squad reflected the changing face, and hair colour, of the country.

"You must name an ancestor and trace your blood lines back to that person," he said.

"To do that connects you with a marae, a sub-tribe and a tribe.

"All our new players - we have 13 - even the ones with Maori names, are checked out."

He said all tribes had whakapapa (genealogy) guardians, who were consulted to confirm the players' links.

"Tito is a Maori name like Turinui is a Maori name," Potaka said.

"You only have to go up the [East] Coast to see there are plenty of red-headed Maori."

Potaka said the growing chorus of questions over eligibility each time a team was named had forced the New Zealand Rugby Union to tighten who was selected.

He said All Black and Crusader Leon MacDonald, part of last year's Maori team who downed the Lions, was regularly touted as an example of someone not eligible.

"I'll tell you what - the MacDonald family from Malborough are very, very strong Maori. Jamie Joseph whakapapa's to that family.

"Everybody from inside Marlborough know the MacDonalds are a very strong and big Maori family."

Potaka said he was personally related to first five Tasesa Lavea, a son of his cousin.

"We call it the browning of the Maori race and they call it the white-ing of the Maori race."

Bush said it was time control of Maori rugby was returned to Maori.

"It is becoming a joke," he said.

"Let us [Maori] run it ourselves, or don't do it at all. This is supposed to be about promoting Maori rugby."

Bush also repeated calls for the inclusion of a Maori team in the Rugby World Cup.

* Six debutants were named in the Maori team for tomorrow's match against New South Wales in Sydney. Callum Bruce, Cory Jane, Tanerau Latimer, Anthony Tahana, Corey Tamou and Pehi Te Whare are in the starting line-up for the game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Three other new faces have been named in the reserves - Matt Berquist, Liam Messam and Luke Mahoney.

* NZ Maori v Waratahs, Sydney, tomorrow

NZ Maori

Cory Jane
Hosea Gear
Pehi Te Whare
Neil Brew
Anthony Tahana
Callum Bruce
Corey Tamou
Thomas Waldrom
Tanerau Latimer
Jono Gibbes (c)
Ross Filipo
Kristian Ormsby
Deacon Manu
Scott Linklater
Joe McDonnell

Luke Mahoney
Greg Feek
Paul Tito
Liam Messam
Brendan Haami
Matt Berquist
Shannon Paku