Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maori last in line for NZ talent

April 19, 2006

The Dominion Post (via Rugby Heaven) reports that with All Black coach Graham Henry's new expanded team policy and the increased importance of the Junior All Blacks, that the New Zealand Maori are going to be hard-pressed to find bodies to fill the team. This could be bad for the Churchhill Cup later this year...

Maori last in line for NZ talent

By Toby Robson
Thursday, April 20, 2006

Expanding All Blacks squads will make life tough for the New Zealand Maori selectors this year, but coach Donny Stevenson is confident he can still muster 26 players from the Super 14.

With the All Blacks to name 39 players and the Junior All Blacks 26, Stevenson is faced with the daunting task of picking a Maori squad for the inaugural Churchill Cup from an unusually small talent pool.

Of the 28 players used by the Maori last year against the British and Irish Lions, about half are likely to be unavailable this season. Five players - Leon MacDonald, Carl Hayman, Piri Weepu, Rico Gear and Luke McAlister - will surely be in the All Blacks, while Marty Holah, Corey Flynn and Caleb Ralph will go close.

Carlos Spencer, Riki Flutey and Wayne Ormond are overseas, Angus Macdonald is injured and Rua Tipoki suspended, while most of the 2005 Maori are likely to at least be in the frame for the Junior All Blacks.

"It has made it tougher because there's 65 out before we can start, but we have known that and have been following the Super 14 with that in mind," Stevenson said. "It's certainly a far cry from last year when we had first pick as such."

Read the rest...


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