The National Māori Under 18 team has been named. The successful players who have been selected will play New Zealand Schools Barbarians and Tonga Under 18 later this month.
Chair of New Zealand Rugby Māori Board, Dr Farah Palmer, today announced the team, many of whom were part of New Zealand Rugby's (NZR) E Tū Toa in 2017.
E Tū Toa is a nationwide programme which uses rugby as a vehicle for young Māori to connect with their culture and learn wider life skills.
"The Under 18 Māori Team provides a genuine rugby pathway for rangatahi (youth) to step up from representing their regions to higher honours.
"What makes this team different is the connection of all players and coaches to 'Te Ao Māori' the Māori World. It's the foundation of all our camps, with players and coaches learning waiata, haka and tikanga which enhance their wellbeing and achievements in rugby and life."
This is the second year the Under 18 Māori team has been selected. Players from the 2016 side have gone on to represent their respective unions at the recent Jock Hobbs National U19 tournament, as well as achieving selection for other national age-grade sides and Super Rugby academies.
National Under 18 Māori team:
Jacob Pepper-Edwards - Ashley RFC - Ngai Tahu
Cameron Huata - Napier Boys' High School - Ngati Porou
Te Ariki Te Puni - Auckland University RFC - Ngati Raukawa, Rangitane o Manawatu, Ngati Porou
Billy Priestley - Gisborne Boys' High School - Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga a Hauiti
Jonas Pomare - Hamilton Boys' High School - Nga Puhi
Tanara Haenga - Wainuiomata College - Ngati Porou
Robert Rush - St Kentigerns College - Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahu
Josh Hill - Otago University RFC - Ngai Tahu
Donovan Mataira - Hastings Boys' High School - Ngati Kahungungu
Sam Smith - Wairarapa College - Ngati Raukawa
Terrell Peita - Mount Albert Grammar - Te Rarawa Kaiwhare
Tamarau McGahan - Rosmini College - Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Raukawa
Keelan Whitman - St Patrick's College Wellington - Te Arawa, Ngati Rangiwewehi
Shamara Brooks - Hastings Boys' High School - Ngati Pamoana
Stewart Cruden - Palmerston North Boys' High School - Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa
Tahu Kaa - Christchurch Boys' High School - Ngati Porou, Ngai Tahu
James Simpson-Te Pairi - Kings' High School - Tuhoe
Tobias Wickham-Manuel - Kia Toa RFC Manawatu - Ngati Porou, Ngati Tuwharetoa
Coel Kerr - Paeroa College - Ngati Ranginui
Nikau McGregor - Napier Boys' High School - Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa
John Cooper - Westlake Boys' High School - Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahungungu Ngati Tuwharetoa
Jaylen Tuapola - Scots' College, Wellington - Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maniapoto
Eru Tahuri - Ashburton Celtic RFC - Ngati Kahungungu, Ngai Tahu
Austin Brown - Gisborne Boys' High School - Ngati Porou
Ben Strowger-Turnock - Wellington College - Ngai Tahu
Head Coach: Rua Wanoa, Ngati Porou
Backs Coach: Kahu Carey, Rangitane, Ngati Apa ki te Ra To
Forwards Coach: Anthony Rehutai, Ngati Porou
Asst Backs Coach: Stacey Grant, Ngati Kahnungungu ki Wairarapa
Asst Forwards Coach: Jeremy Wara, Tainui, Ngati Tipa, Ngati Tahinga
Video Analyst: Tama Walker, Ngati Porou
Trainer: Hoani Smith, Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe
New Zealand Rugby Maori Liaison: Tiki Edwards, Te Arawa
Cultural Advisor: Mihaere Emery, Ngati Awa, Tuhoe, Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Koroki Kahukura, Ngati Raukawa
Physiotherapist: Nishil Shah, Indian
Manager: Mark Seymour, Ngati Hikairo
Kaumatua: Mathew Kiore, Ngati Maniapoto, Tainui, Te Ati Awa
Monday 2 October - Rugby Institute in Palmerston North
National Under 18 Māori v New Zealand Schools Barbarians
Friday 6 October – Porirua Park
National Under 18 Māori v Tonga Schools