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Cooper tips troops for future NZ caps

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/11/2016 Angelo Risso

Maori All Blacks boss Colin Cooper is tipping plenty of his players for future Test berths after watching them crush USA 54-7 in Chicago.

New Zealand Maori All Black coach Colin Cooper © Phil Walter/Getty Images New Zealand Maori All Black coach Colin Cooper It was all too easy for the Maori side at Toyota Park, beginning their northern tour by running in eight tries to one in a dominant display.

They'll now head to Europe for matches against Munster and Harlequins with the wind in their sails, while the Eagles will need drastic improvement against Romania and Tonga.

Cooper told reporters after the match that number of his troops, including the Ioane brothers and winger James Lowe, would inevitably graduate to the senior outfit.

The younger Ioane brother, Rieko, is likely to make his Test debut against Italy next week in Rome, while a trio of other All Blacks ring-ins impressed.

Damian McKenzie was a particular threat at fullback, zipping forward and breaking the line at will, while halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow distributed the ball precisely.

Recruited flanker Elliot Dixon also performed solidly.

"Our country has got a lot of talent over there, we've just got to get all these boys in high performance and working hard," Cooper said.

"If we can direct our youth to the game through the Maori team, that's fantastic."

A nondescript opening burst into life in the 11th minute when Lowe crossed on the back of two line breaks, before Akira Ioane streaked down the blindside to score from a lineout.

Lowe grabbed his second in the 32nd minute after an Ihaia West chip-kick, before skipper Ash Dixon crashed over from a driving maul.

Ahead 28-0 at the break, the Maoris All Blacks took just four minutes to score another five-pointer, with Akira Ioane repeating the trick on the left edge.

The Eagles hit back, with skipper Todd Clever barging over in the 48th minute, but couldn't shift the momentum of the match and conceded to loosehead Kane Hames two minutes later.

Substitute halfback Brad Weber strolled over for the Maori All Blacks in the 63rd minute, before Joe Royal ended the contest with an 80th minute try.

Cooper said he was satisfied with his team's display given their imperfect match preparation, having arrived in Chicago on Monday morning.

"Most of those guys, if they're not All Blacks, they're Super Rugby players and, adjusting for the travel and lack of training time, it was a pretty good effort," he said.

Ash Dixon said the experience of captaining the Maori All Blacks for the first time was a surreal one.

The 28-year-old felt his side had produced a composed performance and emerged victorious from a protracted kicking battle.

"It was actually quite emotional at the start of the game," the Highlanders hooker said.

"A lot of things were in my head but it was really pleasing to start like that."

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