Māori All Blacks name team for second test against Japan

The Māori All Blacks have just named their team to play in their second test match against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.

There have been a few changes from the first test squad with Ash Dixon returning home, Cody Taylor will now start along with Dan Pryor and Kurt Baker will get his first run for the tour on the wing.

Three more players will make their debuts off the bench, Brendon Edmonds, Mitch Crosswell and Joe Webber.

The depth and quality of the players in the 26-man squad is vast so the coaches are confident with any combination they select, while they're giving everyone a run the balance of experience and youth is still there.

However I do believe it will be a very different test match this weekend, much tougher. The Japanese would have learnt from that first hit out and will not want to repeat the same mistakes.

Māori All Black Karne Hesketh is from Ngāti Kahungunu.  He's a winger for the Japanese team and made his debut against the Māori All Blacks last Saturday.

Hesketh explains, “It was real special game for me, I've actually played regional Māori tournaments back home for Otago so I'm quite passionate about Māori rugby."

After four years of playing club rugby for Sanix in Fukuoka, he noticed the difference in intensity.

Hesketh says, “It was so much faster than any club game that we've had, it was an awesome challenge and just to be back in the mix with that level of intensity was good.”

Hesketh played for Otago before moving across to Japan in 2010 and is enjoying his life with his family based in Fukuoka.

“It's a nice wee spot right on the beach, close to training and about 15 metres down the road is the coast good for surfing summertime barbies it's mean,” he says.

This week though, Hesketh and the Japanese side have been training hard to rectify mistakes from the first test.

"Where they were most dangerous the turnout then they'd score after a few phases so we really got to look after the ball and we've been working hard on that," says Hesketh.

Hesketh is looking forward to getting another opportunity to play against the Māori All Blacks and adding to his first cap.

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