IN November 2016 Harlequins played the Maori All Blacks at the Stoop. The match, organised to celebrate Harlequins’ 150th anniversary, was played as part of the Maori All Blacks’ northern hemisphere tour.
A famous and historic team, the Maori’s represent the proud culture of New Zealand and were the first to wear the famous black jersey, and originated the Haka. All players must have Maori whakapapa (genealogy) to be able to represent the side.
In advance of the game, we caught up with Harlequins Full Back / Fly Half Tim Swiel to ask him about the season and the big game vs the Maoris
TR: It’s been a fantastic season at the stoop so far with nail-biting wins over Saracen and Saints. Talk us through how important they were.
Yes, of course. We seem to be doing really well at home but obviously, we do need to follow that up by playing well away. But obviously we’ll be back at the Stoop against the Maori’s and obviously, they have some really good players. I mean if you watch Super Rugby you can expect what’s to come, that really good ball and play kind of attitude. And we’re really looking forward to it because obviously, we play with that kind of style. So two matches… two styles will be very entertaining.
TR: What does it mean to the squad to have the opportunities to play against the side like the Maori’s?
It’s the 150th year and for them to come and obviously play us is a massive privilege. We’ve got a few New Zealanders in our squad that are obviously looking forward to it. I’m sure they know a few of the guys playing for them so we are really looking forward to it. It’s a mid-week game so we hope the fans can come out to watch.
TR: Is there anything you’ll be doing differently in training to specifically prepare for the head-to-head against the Southern Hemisphere team?
We’ll probably do some lower leg tackles because they’re a big bunch of boys – the Maori’s – so obviously we got to look out for that. But no, we’re really looking forward to it and it should be a good occasion.
TR: The Maori squad was announced earlier on this week. Who out of that are the key names to look for?
I saw Marty Banks in there. I saw Tim Bateman, a few of those good back line players who obviously do really well in super rugby. So it’ll be a really good challenge.
TR: And finally, what do you think the score will be, Tim?
I’ll say we’ll win within ten points. Hopefully, it will be a good one for the fans.
TR: Thanks Tim, good luck!