The New Zealand Maori have named their XV for their visit to Welford Road this Tuesday.
Controversial fly half Willie Ripia makes his first class come back after leaving the Western Force in January in disgrace. Ripia was accused of stealing from teammates to fund a crippling gambling addiction. He has only played 8 games for Bay of Plenty's development side since and his inclusion in the tour has hit the headlines in his native New Zealand.
6 players are making their Maori debuts whilst a further 5 could do so from the bench. The starters are Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Frae Wilson, Kade
Poki, Charlie Ngatai and Kurt Baker. Andre Taylor, Quentin
MacDonald, Nick Crosswell, Jamison Gibson-Park, and Declan O'Donnell
are all on the bench and waiting for their first taste of Maori action.
The bulk of the team is from the Highlanders (7), Hurricanes (6) and Cheifs (6) with only the Auckland based Blues having no representation after their poor Super Rugby Season. Flanker Shane Christie and Jamison Gibson-Park have both been drafted for next years Super Rugby by the Crusaders and the Blues respectively.
1. Ben May (Hurricanes)
2. Hika Elliot* (Chiefs)
3. Ben Afeaki (Chiefs)
4. Jarrad Hoeata* (Highlanders)
5. Jason Eaton* (Hurricanes)
6. Shane Christie (Tasman/No Super Rugby)
7. Tanerau Latimer* (c) (Chiefs)
8. Elliot Dixon (Highlanders)
9. Frae Wilson (Hurricanes)
10. Willie Ripia (Bay of Plenty)
11. Kade Poki (Highlanders)
12. Tim Bateman (Hurricanes)
13. Charlie Ngatai (Hurricanes)
14. Kurt Baker (Highlanders)
15. Andre Taylor (Hurricanes)
16. Quentin MacDonald (Crusaders)
17. Jacob Ellison (Highlanders)
18. Bronson Murray (Highlanders)
19. Romana Graham (Chiefs)
20. Nick Crosswell (Highlanders)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (Taranaki/No Super Rugby)
22. Jackson Willison (Chiefs)
23. Declan O'Donnell (Chiefs)
*Indicates capped for New Zealand All Blacks at test level