Māori All Blacks name starting line up for first test in Japan

This morning the Māori All Blacks have named their team for their first test against Japan in Kobe on Saturday, many of which will be wearing the Māori jersey for the first time.

There are a lot of new caps such as Mike Kainga, Dan Pryor and Tom Franklin but all these players are excited with a huge amount of talent and they are also in form from the ITM cup.

The team isn't without experience either. There's Robbie Robinson, Hayden Triggs and many others, so there's a good balance. However the newbies have a big task ahead.

Jason Emery missed out on the Māori All Blacks last year due to injury. This time he's fit and will start at centre on Saturday.

“It kind of haunted me the whole year watching the boys play so I'm pretty happy to be here," says Jason Emery.

Jason says it will be an unforgettable moment when he runs out wearing the Māori All Blacks jersey, not only for himself but also his family.

“It will be pretty special, a few tears from mum and dad maybe. I wish they could come across but the whanau is too big but when I run out there I'll be wearing them on my back.” 

Winger James Lowe is also very happy to be named in the starting line-up after finishing another successful ITM Cup season with Tasman.

“My family is pretty happy for me and yeah a lot of hard work has gone into it and it's good to see some reward,” says James Lowe.

However with such a limited time to prepare before Saturday's test match, the new caps have much to learn.

James Lowe says, “There's been so much info crammed into the last two trainings but we run a pretty simple game plan and everyone's here to play pretty exciting rugby.”

That's also why these two players have been named in the backline, to ignite the team from the back.

Tomorrow the team will get their first glimpse and feel of Noevair Stadium, the venue for the test match on Saturday.

It will also be the first time that Charlie Ngatai will lead his team though the captain's run.