Maori tour to Britain big lure for Graham

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 31/08/2012

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Two years ago Romana Graham proudly followed his father of the same name into the New Zealand Maori rugby side in their centenary year.

Yesterday he, and all Maori players in this country, was handed an extra incentive to play well in this season's National Provincial Championship with the announcement of a three-match tour to Britain at the end of this year.

The Maori All Blacks, as they have been officially renamed this year, will play Aviva Premiership champions, the Leicester Tigers, a select Championship XV and Canada on the two-week tour.

Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph and Crusaders assistant Daryl Gibson have been reappointed as coaches of the Maori side.

"I'm not looking too far ahead but this is good for the Maori people to know there is going to be a tour for the Maori team at the end of the year," Graham said.

Graham came off the bench against both the New Zealand Barbarians and Ireland when the Maori last played in 2010 and he is keen to add to that and experience an overseas tour with the side.

"You're not guaranteed anything - you've got to play well in ITM Cup and hopefully you'll get a callup," Graham said.

"Usually you play hard all season and look forward to your break, but now you'll play hard and look forward to a tour at the end of the year. There's certainly a carrot at the end of it now."

Graham said his time in the Maori team in 2010 had been a great experience, visiting the likes of Whangarei, Rotorua and Napier and embracing Maori culture in the form of both kapa haka and hangi food.

"It just made you realise who you were and where you were from. The old man played [for New Zealand Maori] too so that makes it extra special," he said.

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- Waikato

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