Next year looks quiet for NZ Maori team

DAVID LONG IN OXFORD
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
Willie Ripia
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WILLIE RIPIA: Kicked the Maori All Blacks to a win over Canada in the final test of their European tour.

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Saturday's 32-19 win over Canada in Oxford may have sent the Maori All Blacks side off to Heathrow Airport in high spirits but there remains a big question about what next for New Zealand's second most important side.

On one level, the two wins over a Championship Select XV and Canada made up for the first-up loss to what was a Leicester B team, so the tour can be regarded as a success.

However, while the crowds were good at the three games, the team completely slipped under the radar of the British media.

The Maori All Blacks-Canada game wasn't shown on TV, didn't get a mention in the national newspapers and was deemed worthy of only four lines in the local paper the day before the game and three the day after it.

For a team that is held in high regard by so many New Zealanders, it is something of a snub that they have been so ignored, and were sent to rugby backwaters like Doncaster and Oxford.

So what next?

Team coach Jamie Joseph would like to see more matches against national sides.

"It is nice when they get a really good challenge," he said.

"This was a different type of challenge to the last one we had in New Zealand [in 2010] when we played against Ireland and England. The best we can hope for is a worthy test match in New Zealand in front of our people."

But with the British and Irish Lions touring Australia next June, and France unlikely to want to add any games to their three-test trip to New Zealand at the end of their long domestic season, only a test against a Pacific Island nation seems a possibility.

Joseph said the trip had been a good experience for the team.

"These guys here are proud Maori boys who understand and know the responsibility of performing for the team," said Joseph. "Win, lose or draw they will always give 100 per cent.

"The style of rugby that we play over here is very different, the refereeing is different but a lot of the young guys have come through - Trent Renata, Declan O'Donnell and Jackson Willison - guys that haven't had a large career in Super Rugby yet," Joseph said.

"Last time we came together there was a young guy named Aaron Smith in the team, so who knows what's round the corner for these players?"

NZ MAORI 32 CANADA 19

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