New Zealand Rugby
Tim Bateman captains Maori All Blacks
ESPN Staff
October 25, 2013
Hurricanes' Tim Bateman is tackled by Waratahs duo Pat McCutcheon and Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hurricanes v Waratahs, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, April 6, 2013
Wellington and Hurricanes centre Tim Bateman adds starch to the Maori midfield © Getty Images

Tim Bateman has assumed the Maori All Blacks captaincy from Tanerau Latimer for their two-match end-of-season North American tour, with the Chiefs back-rower unavailable due to scheduled surgery on a long-standing injury.

Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper was disappointed Latimer couldn't travel, saying "I fully respect his reasons to step away for this tour", but he noted the team nevertheless boasted an experienced line-up featuring six former All Blacks and 11 players who played for the Maori All Blacks last year.

"I'm thrilled for Tim to take over the leadership duties," Cooper said. "He is a mature young man who leads by example. He knows the team culture really well having played for us in recent years, so he's a great fit."

Cooper lamented the absence of Corey Flynn due a neck problem that ruled the Canterbury hooker out of the ITM Cup premiership final, replacing him with Hawke' Bay's Ash Dixon, but he said the 26-strong squad boasted an exciting mix of experience and young talent, and provided a real opportunity for developing players to press for higher honours.

"New Zealand Rugby has identified the Maori All Blacks as a high-performance team, and our selections reflect that. We have experienced campaigners like Hika Elliot and Piri Weepu as well as young up-and-comers like Ihaia West and Liam Squire, so the side has great balance."

The Maori All Blacks open their tour against Canada in Toronto on November 3 before playing the United States six days later in Philadelphia.

Maori All Blacks: Hika Elliott, Ash Dixon, Ben Afeaki, Nick Barrett, Chris Eves, Kane Hames, Joe Royal, Jarrad Hoeata, Luke Katene, Joe Wheeler, Luke Braid, Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire, Blade Thomson, Jamieson Gibson-Park, Piri Weepu, Ihaia West, Tim Bateman, Charlie Ngatai, Jackson Willison, Kurt Backer, Zac Guildford, Robbie Robinson, Andre Taylor, Matt Proctor.

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