Ngāti Tahinga’s Ash Dixon leads 2016 Māori All Blacks

Ash Dixon (Ngāti Tahinga) will captain the 2016 Māori All Blacks for their upcoming Northern Hemisphere tour next month. 26-players in total have been named in the side by the head coach, Colin Cooper today in Wellington.

Otere Black joins the side once again after a spectacular Mitre 10 Cup season for Manawatū. Akira Ioane (Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-a-Apanui) joins the side also for a second consecutive year. The sole Northland Taniwha player to gain selection, Kara Pryor is once again a Māori All Black. After a surprise call-up to the side last year, Auckland's Marcel Renata returns to the side.

Māori All Blacks Head coach Colin Cooper says, “We've got a group of hardened warriors to travel with, the tour is quite demanding, and so we've got the familiarity of the players and the combinations.”

New Māori All Blacks captain, Ash Dixon is contemplative on who will lead the Māori All Blacks haka in the absence of Charlie Ngatai?

Dixon says, “I think Joe Royal does a really good job, I'd love to see him do it and I'd ask him if he wants me to put my own little take on it, but if not, happy as.”

The New Zealand Māori Rugby Union fully supports Dixon as a suitable captain for the side.

Māori All Black Kaumātua Luke Crawford says, “For a long time now, his leadership qualities and strength have been visible at this level. Greetings, Ngāti Tahinga.”

Six new caps have been named in the side including Waikato Mitre 10 Cup star, Whetu Douglas of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Whakaue.

“Feels quite heavy on your shoulders but at the same time use the mana of the history to get on the field and put your best into the jersey,” says Douglas.

Added to the new talent in the side, returns a plethora of Māori talent who made their Māori All Blacks debut in Fiji last year including Akira Ioane, Marty McKenzie and his Taranaki Mitre 10 cup teammate, Sean Wainui.

“Found out at about 1'oclock, and haven't stopped smiling since, looking forward to the week ahead and getting into camp with the brothers,” says Wainui.

The side will assemble in Auckland tomorrow and will fly to America on Sunday.