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Ireland vs Maori All Blacks LIVE rugby: Latest updates from tour opener in New Zealand as Bundee Aki captains Ireland

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(AFP via Getty Images)

Ireland begin their summer tour of New Zealand with a game against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on Wednesday morning.

Two of the three favourites for next year’s Rugby World Cup, along with hosts France, the three-match series between Ireland and the All Blacks will be a fascinating watch but before the first Test in Auckland on Saturday, the Irish have a warm-up against the Maoris.

A proud representative side, who reflect the country’s heritage and have a long, storied rugby history, the hosts will provide a real challenge for an experimental-looking Ireland side – who are captained by New Zealand-born Bundee Aki.

The Ireland XV contains five uncapped players and the match will be played at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, where Aki won a Super Rugby title with former club the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014, while coach Andy Farrell has stressed the importance of the contest: “It’s huge. It’s everything to these players that are taking the field, it is the biggest game of their lives. I know there is a three-game series coming up but these two Maori games for us and what we’re trying to build and how we’re trying to put people under pressure and see how they come through, that is just as important.”

Follow all the action from Hamilton with our live blog below:

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‘Huge privilege’: Bundee Aki proud to captain Ireland against Maori All Blacks

Bundee Aki says it will be a “huge privilege” to captain Ireland against the Maori All Blacks after initially suspecting head coach Andy Farrell was joking about giving him the responsibility.

New Zealand-born Aki is set to lead a youthful side containing five uncapped players on Wednesday as the Irish kick-off their summer tour of his homeland.

The match will be played at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, where the 32-year-old centre won a Super Rugby title with former club the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014.

“(I’m) privileged to be here, be a part of this team and to lead the boys out,” Aki told a press conference. “It’s special to do it here, where I played my Super Rugby.

“It is a huge privilege, it’s an honour. A very proud moment for myself and my family. A kid from south Auckland, not many opportunities come your way.

Luke Baker29 June 2022 07:52

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Maori All Blacks team to face Ireland

Meanwhile, for the Maori All Blacks, experienced scrum-halves Brad Weber and TJ Perenara will co-captain them having missed out on Ian Foster’s full All Blacks squad.

Perenara, who started when New Zealand lost to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in November, is named among the replacements with Weber leading the starting side out.

There are 10 players set to make their debut for the Maori while a number of experienced Super Rugby campaigners including Tyrel Lomax, Shaun Stevenson and Josh Ioane are named.

Maori All Blacks: Zarn Sullivan; Shaun Stevenson, Billy Proctor , Rameka Poihipi , Connor Garden-Bachop; Josh Ioane, Brad Weber (co-capt); Ollie Norris, Kurt Eklund, Tyrel Lomax, Josh Dickson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Cameron Suafoa, Billy Harmon, Cullen Grace.

Replacements: Tyrone Thompson, Tamaiti Williams, Jermaine Ainsley, Maanaki Selby-Rickit, TK Howden, TJ Perenara (co-capt), Ruben Love, Bailyn Sullivan.

Luke Baker29 June 2022 07:49

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Ireland team to face the Maori All Blacks

Ireland have gone youthful and experimental with their line-up for this morning’s clash, with just three days before the first Test against New Zealand. It’s hard to imagine many of these players will be involved against the All Blacks from the start on Saturday.

There are five uncapped players in the starting XV, as Leinster’s Ciaran Frawley will start at fly-half with provincial team-mate Jimmy O’Brien at full-back. Munster prop Jeremy Loughman, Leinster lock Joe McCarthy and Connacht flanker Cian Prendergast are the other international rookies included.

As mentioned, the side is captained by New Zealand-born Bundee Aki, who is one of only three players with more than six caps in Ireland’s maiden starting XV, alongside Jordan Larmour (30) and Keith Earls (96).

Ireland Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour, James Hume, Bundee Aki (capt), Keith Earls; Ciaran Frawley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Dave Heffernan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Joe McCarthy, Cian Prendergast, Nick Timoney, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Michael Lowry.

Luke Baker29 June 2022 07:44

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Ireland vs Maori All Blacks

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Ireland vs Maori All Blacks from Hamilton.

Two of the three favourites for next year’s Rugby World Cup, along with hosts France, the three-match series between Ireland and the All Blacks will be a fascinating watch but before the first Test in Auckland on Saturday, the Irish have a warm-up against the Maoris.

A proud representative side, who reflect the country’s heritage and have a long, storied rugby history, the hosts will provide a real challenge for an experimental-looking Ireland side – who are captained by New Zealand-born Bundee Aki.

The Ireland XV contains five uncapped players and the match will be played at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, where Aki won a Super Rugby title with former club the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014, while coach Andy Farrell has stressed the importance of the contest.

Stay with us for all the action.

Luke Baker29 June 2022 07:36

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