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Two changes to Maori All Blacks for finale

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/11/2016
Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper. © Getty Images Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper.

Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper has kept changes to a minimum in naming his team for their final tour match against English club Harlequins.

There are two starting switches and a positional shuffle to the side who lost 27-14 to Munster in Limerick last week for Wednesday's fixture at Twickenham Stoop in London.

Waikato's Whetu Douglas starts at blindside flanker, pushing Reed Prinsep to the bench following his Maori All Blacks debut in Ireland.

Sean Wainui, usually a centre, is promoted to start on the left wing, with James Lowe shifting to fullback in place of Marty McKenzie.

Second five-eighth Tim Bateman is in doubt with an injury niggle and has been bracketed with Jason Emery.

"We've gone for the most experienced team we can just because of the way the game is played over here," Cooper said.

"We've had to re-programme to adjust from playing the style of rugby we play back home to better adjust to the way they play rugby up here."

Cooper said the transition from a big win over the United States to facing a passionate Munster side in wet conditions was too great for his players.

He hopes they are better adjusted for the showdown with Harlequins, who are sixth in the 12-team English Premiership through seven rounds.

The match will also act as a form of selection trial for their anticipated match against the touring British and Irish Lions in Rotorua next year.

"These guys here have a great opportunity to be part of the Lions, but again, players in Super Rugby in 2017 will have a great opportunity to play for a spot in the team, so that will be exciting to watch," Cooper said.

Maori All Blacks: James Lowe, Ambrose Curtis, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman/Jason Emery, Sean Wainui, Ihaia West, Brad Weber Akira Ioane, Shane Christie, Whetu Douglas, Tom Franklin, Leighton Price, Ben May, Ash Dixon (capt), Kane Hames. Reserves: Joe Royal, Chris Eves, Marcel Renata, Jacob Skeen, Reed Prinsep, Billy Guyton, Otere Black, Emery/Marty McKenzie.

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