Māori All Blacks hint Ireland’s Māori stars may reply to haka

Victor Waters
Source: Te Karere

Five years ago James Lowe parted ways with the Chiefs and the Māori All Blacks to chase his European rugby dream.

Next month he'll likely return to his former home of Hamilton, but this time dressed in Irish green to face the Māori All Blacks' haka.

Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea says it'll be a special occasion.

"He was massive for the Chiefs, had a few good years here and then played a few games for the Māori All Blacks," Tupaea said.

"I think he'll be wanting to play the Māori All Blacks and I know he definitely wants to play the All Blacks so it'll be good for him."

Lowe along with another former Māori All Black, Jamison Gibson-Park, will be sure to rise to the occasion.

Playing against the nation of their birth is nothing new for the pair as both were part of the Ireland team which beat the All Blacks last year in Dublin.

"I think it will be a proud moment for them, obviously established new roots in Ireland but like all Kiwis and Māori, we carry our heritage and where we're from close to our hearts," said Māori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan.

The coach hopes the occasion can be a celebration of Māori rugby culture.

James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park

"To be putting on an Irish jersey at home against the All Blacks and the Māori All Blacks here in Kirikiriroa and Whanganui-a-Tara will make them proud," he said.

"I know the last time the Māori team were in Munster, a number of Māori players fronted up with a haka so who knows what will happen on this occasion but I think it's great overall."

It's an occasion that could see Tupaea's return to the Māori All Blacks after the midfielder was in the team's camp last year preparing to play Samoa when he received his maiden All Blacks call-up.

Tupaea said he's keen to play in both jerseys this time against Ireland.

"Yeah 100 per cent, I'd love to play for the Māori All Blacks," he said.

"I think It's happened in the past - guys have gone with All Blacks and then Māori All Blacks have been around in the same country and they've been able to play for them so if that opportunity comes up, it'd be awesome."

Tupaea's talents could be a big boost for the Māori team in the two games against the world's fourth-best rugby nation.

The first match will be at Waikato Stadium on Wednesday 29 June with the second at Sky Stadium on Tuesday 12 July.