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Maoris keen to honour past, present

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Ash Dixon, idly flicking channels on the telly, stumbled across the Maori All Blacks' 2005 clash with the British and Irish Lions on Thursday.

Watching through to the end, it wasn't the Maori's landmark 19-13 victory that took Dixon's interest - it was their evident sense of pride, brotherhood and desire.

It's a mentality he hopes to instil in his own troops, 12 years on, as Maori All Blacks captain for Saturday's corresponding clash in Rotorua.

The 28-year-old Dixon will line up at hooker for the fixture, with his Maori side aiming to repeat the feat of their predecessors by downing the Lions.

To do so, they've tapped deeply into Maori culture and the achievements of the past - including their 2005 win, by inviting then-coach Matt Te Pou to address the side.

The Hawke's Bay and Highlanders-based Dixon told reporters he'd seen enough from his star-studded squad - including nine capped All Blacks in the matchday XXIII - to believe they were capable of another upset victory.

And even more importantly, to believe they'd honour the Maori jersey.

"We've prepared really well, bonded really well with our culture and what we do as a team, (so) I'm really looking forward to tomorrow," Dixon said on Friday.

"I had a good look at (the 2005 match) yesterday actually, when it was on TV - there's a lot of awesome things they did as a team, the way they showed up with a lot of passion and that real die-for-each-other attitude, it's something we can take into the game."

Dixon, affiliated to Ngati Tahinga, will captain the Maori for the fourth time on Saturday after leading them through last year's northern hemisphere tour.

He said he was keen to embrace the experience on the biggest stage.

"It's not often you get to play a touring side like this, every 12 years they come and I've just got to take this opportunity (and) welcome it," Dixon said.

"I've just got to make sure the boys are enjoying it - a few laughs today, and (then) making sure that at the right time, they flick on that switch."

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