Maori All Blacks

Maori All Blacks 32-17 Ireland: Visitors well beaten in tour opener

The hosts dazzled in a one-sided first half in which they scored four tries to Ireland's one to open up a 22-point advantage.

Gavin Coombes crossed after the break as Ireland improved but it was too late to seriously threaten the Maori lead.

The visitors also lost James Hume and Cian Healy to second-half injuries.

Māori All Black Sean Wainui a 'talented individual with great mana'

Wainui has died in a car crash near Tauranga on Monday morning.

The crash happened just before 8am at McLaren Falls Park, with the 25-year-old dying at the scene as the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Chiefs and Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan said Wainui's death was a huge loss.

"Sean was an incredibly talented individual and held a great amount of mana among his fellow teammates and the wider rugby community.

Being a Māori All Black means more than just the game

While the game will be played without fans it will still have a big impact on the players.

For some of the Māori players it might be the highest honour they achieve and it also gives them another chance to connect with their heritage.

And for Samoa it's a chance for the side to get together, something that doesn't happen often enough.

A win over the 2005 British and Irish Lions would go down as one of the Māori All Blacks most memorable victories in recent years, along with wins over Ireland and England.

Two debutants in Māori All Blacks

Chiefs prop Ollie Norris and Highlanders loose forward Josh Dickson are in the team for the first time, with Highlanders hooker Ash Dixon named kāpene (captain).

It will be the first time the sides have met since 2008, with matches in Wellington (June 26) and an exciting double header alongside the All Blacks and Tonga at Mt Smart in Auckland (July 3).

Dixon made his debut for the side in 2013 he has led the past five campaigns.

Māori All Blacks pip Moana Pasifika in rugby festival

The combined Pacific Island team led 9-7 at half time.

It was an even tussle in the first 40 minutes with both sides making a number of breaks however turnovers let them down.

The Māori were guilty of giving away penalties in their own half which Josh Ioane took advantage of with three first half penalties.

Māori fullback Kaleb Trask scored the only try of the first half when he broke through some weak tackling to crash over under the post, which he then converted.

Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa to captain Pasifika side

Pasifika coach Tana Umaga’s side includes 66 international test caps and it will need to lean on all of that experience to get by a strong Māori All Blacks team in Hamilton on Saturday.

First-five eighth Josh Ioane will be a key man in the Moana Pasifika cause and if his forward pack can deliver front foot ball, Ioane has multiple strike weapons outside of him.

Changing of the guard for Māori All Blacks

Lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit, midfielders Quinn Tupaea and Billy Proctor along with fullback Kaleb Trask are the newcomers named in the starting fifteen while hooker Kurt Eklund, prop Tamaiti Williams, loose forward Ethan Roots and halfback Rameka Poihipi are set to make their debuts off the bench.

There are still a few veterans around though with hooker Ash Dixon to captain the side, Liam Messam at number eight and prop Josh Hohneck who last played for the side in 2015 all included.

Ash Dixon to captain Maori All Blacks

The 24-strong squad includes eight new caps while former All Black loosie Liam Messam returns to the side for the first time since the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour.

New Highlanders coach Tony Brown has been named to assist Clayton McMillan on the coaching staff.

Among the new caps in the squad are the young midfielders, Billy Proctor of Wellington, Quinn Tupaea of Waikato and Rameka Poihipi of Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty fullback Kaleb Trask.

Flying Fijians to begin World Cup prep against Māori All Blacks

The ninth-ranked Fijians, who stunned France in Paris six months ago, will host the Māori in Suva on July 13 with the return match in Rotorua a week later.

Fiji Rugby chief executive John O'Connor was delighted to secure two competitive mid-year games, which he said isn't always easy to achieve for the Pacific nations.

"It is indeed a timely boost for the Flying Fijians as we will prepare for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later in the year," he said.

Damian McKenzie to start at first five for Maori

Coach Colin Cooper has named All Blacks Akira Ioane, Tawera Kerr Barlow and Rieko Ioane in his starting fifteen along with Nehe Milner Skudder.

Hawke's Bay's Ash Dixon will captain the side which features just two new caps in reserves, Bryn Hall and Rob Thompson.

"We've named a strong group who all have good clarity on how we want to play this match against the Lions. We feel Damian will suit the game plan that we want to play, from the number 10 position, "

Cooper said he was pleased with the way the players had connected throughout the week.