Black Two Black

There are two teams who will be wearing black shirts sporting silver ferns in action this weekend.

In the first tomorrow night (morning UK time) the All Blacks will take on Samoa at Eden Park.

Anyone hoping that the much publicised injuries to start players like Kieran Read, Dane Coles and Ryan Crotty will reduce the potency of the line-up will be sadly disappointed.

This is a very very strong All Blacks team.

1.Joe Moody (24)
2. Codie Taylor (15)
3. Owen Franks (90)
4. Brodie Retallick (60)
5. Samuel Whitelock (84)
6. Jerome Kaino (77)
7. Sam Cane (40)
8. Ardie Savea (12)
9. Aaron Smith (58)
10. Beauden Barrett (49)
11. Julian Savea (52)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (33)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (9)
14. Israel Dagg (61)
15. Ben Smith – captain (60)

16.Nathan Harris (4)
17. Wyatt Crockett (58)
18. Charlie Faumuina (46)
19. Scott Barrett (4)
20. Vaea Fifita*
21. T J Perenara (29)
22. Lima Sopoaga (6)
23. Jordie Barrett *

Samoa also field a team that will provide a good warm up for the All Blacks.

The New Zealanders have been world champions since 2011 and have been the number one ranked side for most of my (unfortunately long) life.

They have maintained that position despite a regular number of injuries to key players – it was their 5th choice fly half who kicked the winning score in the 2011 World Cup final (at Eden Park!)

The ABs don’t usually have a warm up match before the tours at this time of year – they go straight into the June internationals.

This is not good news for the Lions – in the past England, France and Wales have performed well and often come close to winning the first test of a tour to NZ. After that it is mostly a different story.

After the Samoa warm up game they are likely to be less vulnerable!

They may even have Kieran read and Ryan Crotty available on the 24th too – but not Dane Coles

But first the Lions have to deal with another formidable outfit – on this Saturday it’s the Maori All Blacks.

The game against the Crusaders was billed as ‘the 4th test’ – this one looks a lot more like it!

Māori All Blacks (v Lions):

  1. James Lowe
    14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
    13. Matt Proctor
    12. Charlie Ngatai
    11. Rieko Ioane
    10. Damian McKenzie
    9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
  2. Kane Hames
    2. Ash Dixon (captain)
    3. Ben May
    4. Joe Wheeler
    5. Tom Franklin
    6. Akira Ioane
    7. Elliot Dixon
    8. Liam Messam


  1. Hika Elliot
    17. Chris Eves
    18. Marcel Renata
    19. Leighton Price
    20. Kara Pryor
    21. Bryn Hall
    22. Ihaia West
    23. Rob Thomson

With 9 All Blacks and a backline that looks as strong as most international threequarters this will be a huge challenge in Rotorua, the spiritual home of ‘the Maoris

The match is on Sky Sports early tomorrow morning (Friday)

Game on!

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