Māori All Blacks to play Ireland

NZR and the IRFU have confirmed the dates for the July Steinlager Series between Ireland and the All Blacks: the tests will be played on Saturday 2 July (Auckland), 9 July (Dunedin) and 16 July (Wellington) 2022.

Ireland will, however, come to New Zealand with an expanded squad and play two additional mid-week matches against the Māori All Blacks. The first of these two matches will be played on Wednesday 29 June 2022 at 7.05pm in Hamilton and the second on Tuesday 12 July 2022 at 7.05pm in Wellington.

You can find the link to the announcement of this year’s Māori All Blacks matches here.

2022 Māori All Blacks coaching staff

The Māori All Blacks Head Coach will again be Clayton McMillan. Last year’s assistant coaches were Roger Randle and Chris Gibbes. It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether they’ll again be part of McMillan’s coaching staff in 2022.

The 2022 Māori All Blacks squad

Squad size

The squad will likely consist of 25 or 26 players (14/15 forwards and 11 backs).

Māori All Blacks contenders

For making the list of Māori All Blacks contenders, I’ve taken last year’s Māori All Blacks squad as a starting point (including later additions/replacements); looked at which players are still playing and available (in New Zealand and not injured) and new players who may be eligible.

List legend:

  • Normal font: last year’s squad (originally named & later call-ups)
  • Strikethrough: players no longer available
  • Italics: players capped before 2021
  • Between brackets: not or no longer playing Super Rugby
  • ^symbol: possible new cap (playing Super Rugby and/or NPC)

LH props:
Pouri Rakete-Stones;
Tamaiti Williams;
Ollie Norris;
(Ross Wright).

TH props:
Josh Hohneck;
Marcel Renata;
Ben May;
^Jermaine Ainsley.

Ash Dixon (captain);
Kurt Eklund;
Leni Apisai;
(Nathan Harris);
Joe Royal;
^Tyrone Thompson;
^Kianu Kereru-Symes;
if eligible: ^Ricky Jackson.

Isaia Walker-Leawere;
Manaaki Selby-Rickit;
Pari Pari Parkinson (is currently injured);
Josh Dickson;
Caleb Delany (was in training squad);
if eligible: ^Zach Gallagher.

Loose forwards:
Whetukamokamo Douglas (6/8);
Billy Harmon (7);
Reed Prinsep (6/8);
Jacob Norris;
^TK Howden.

Bryn Hall;
Sam Nock;
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi;
^Cortez Ratima;
if still eligible: ^Ereatara Enari.

First five-eighths
Otere Black;
Josh Ioane;
Jackson Garden-Bachop;
^Ruben Love;
^Lincoln McClutchie;
^Rivez Reihana.

Quinn Tupaea (before ABs call-up);
Billy Proctor;
Rameka Poihipi (replacement Tupaea);
Alex Nankivell;
Teihorangi Walden;
^Bailyn Sullivan.

Outside backs
Jonah Lowe;
Kaleb Trask (15, also 10);
Shaun Stevenson;
Sean Wainui;
(Mathew Skipwith-Garland);
(Jordan Hyland retired?);
(Nehe Milner-Skudder);
^Zarn Sullivan (15/10);
^Connor Garden-Bachop.

Players not included

Not included are players who are likely to be unavailable due to being named in the All Blacks squad: Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, Aaron Smith, Akira and Rieko Ioane. Joe Moody is injured. Less certain are players whose All Blacks spots might be under pressure: TJ Perenara, Brad Weber and Quinn Tupaea.

If he has returned to New Zealand and has signed with NZR, but isn’t in the All Blacks squad, Damian McKenzie could be picked for the Māori All Blacks, depending on whether he’s considered elegible (he might play some club rugby to pass that barrier, but if last year’s example of TJ Perenara is followed, that won’t be enough for the July Series).

Cross-over selections

Some of these players may cross-over between All Blacks and Māori All Blacks, and vice versa. For example, players who don’t make the All Blacks’ 23 for the first test match, may play in the first Māori All Blacks game. The most likely candidates for that are Dane Coles/Codie Taylor, Tyrel Lomax and both Perenara and Weber (whoever makes the All Blacks, but isn’t in the match day 23).

Stargazer’s squad prediction (not to be confused with preference):

Props (5):
Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tamaiti Williams, Ollie Norris, Marcel Renata, Jermaine Ainsley

Hookers (2):
Kurt Eklund, Tyrone Thompson

Locks (4):
Isaia Walker-Leawere, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson, Caleb Delany

Loosies (3):
Billy Harmon, Reed Prinsep, TK Howden. If they pick four: Jacob Norris

Halfbacks (2):
Bryn Hall, Cortez Ratima. If Perenara or Weber drops out of the All Blacks, this player will likely take Ratima’s spot. I can’t see them both miss out on All Blacks selection.

First five-eighth (2):
Josh Ioane and … Damian McKenzie? If not McKenzie: they could move Zarn Sullivan to 10 or include Ruben Love.

Midfield backs (3):
Billy Proctor, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan. Proctor to drop out if Tupaea doesn’t make the ABs.

Outside backs (4):
Jonah Lowe, Shaun Stevenson, Connor Garden-Bachop, Zarn Sullivan.
If Sullivan is moved to 10: include Love (but they may pick Trask).

Unluckiest to miss out: Rameka Poihipi, but if Quinn Tupaea and/or Bailyn Sullivan make the All Blacks, he’ll probably still get the call-up.

Captain: if one of them is in the squad, it’s likely to be TJ Perenara or Brad Weber. If they’re both not in the squad, expect Prinsep to be named captain.

I’ll update the introduction to this article as soon as more information becomes available.

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