25 Oct 2016

Māori All Blacks provide ABs with flexibility

7:31 am on 25 October 2016

The touring Māori All Blacks will give the All Blacks the opportunity to shuffle their decks during next month's end-of-year rugby campaign in the northern hemisphere.

The world champion All Blacks will take in Chicago, Rome, Dublin and Paris on the whirlwind four-week tour, as they look to complete a perfect 2016 season.

Māori All Blacks, meanwhile, will take on USA in Chicago the day before the All Blacks play, and then clash with Munster and Harlequins in Europe.

New Zealand Maori perform haka ahead of match against Canada in 2013.

New Zealand Maori perform haka ahead of match against Canada in 2013. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said his 36-man squad was selected with one eye on their Māori counterparts, who are able to provide cover.

This is particularly the case in the front row, where only five props have been selected, and in the decision to choose eight loose forwards.

Chiefs tighthead Kane Hames, who debuted against Australia in August, will travel with the Māori All Blacks and be called over to the All Blacks if required.

"With any selection, you've got to get it right," Hansen said.

All Black coach Steve Hansen

All Black coach Steve Hansen Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

"But when there's another team touring that allows you to shuffle the deck a little differently, we'll take that opportunity."

The decision to take eight loose forwards benefits Matt Todd in particular after the Crusaders gun impressed at openside against the Springboks and Wallabies.

Todd, 28, was omitted from his side's June series against Wales but has used incumbent Sam Cane's injury to push for a starting berth in the Rugby Championship.

Matt Todd will start at openside flanker against the Springboks.

Matt Todd during the 2016 Rugby Championship Photo: Photosport

The flanker caused multiple problems for the Wallabies in Saturday's third Bledisloe Cup test with his strength at the breakdown, and also made 16 tackles.

Hansen said the six-cap Todd, who received a standing ovation upon his substitution, had been unlucky to not have a larger squad role in the past.

"He's a quality player but not only that, he's a quality team man," Hansen said.

Skipper Kieran Read echoed his coach's remarks, saying his Crusaders club teammate worked his socks off and had the perfect frame for Test rugby.