Liam Messam has loved playing for the Māori All Blacks, but he’s desperate to be a part of a special year for Waikato.
Liam Messam was forced to pull out of the Mori All Blacks series against Manu Samoa, because an unexpected opportunity to have a much-needed operation came up, and he wants to be at his best for a special year for Waikato.
The 37-year-old Messam would have almost certainly been in the Mori All Blacks squad announced by the teams coach Clayton McMillan on Wednesday.
The squad features two uncapped players, Waikato prop Ollie Norris and Otago lock Josh Dickson. But a name missing from the list is Messams, who was with the team for last years game against Moana Pasifika.
McMillan explained that while Messam was eager to play in the two games against Manu Samoa, he reluctantly had to make himself unavailable.
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Liam has got to have a little tidy-up surgery and unfortunately its coincided with this series, McMillan said.
If he hadnt got it done [now], it would have been a long wait to get it done.
Otere Black is back in the MÄori All Blacks team for their two upcoming games against Samoa.
Hes hugely passionate about the Mori team and would have loved to have taken to the field.
So it was a sad phone call from him to effectively rule himself out.
Waikato are celebrating their centenary this year, which Messam wants to be a part of, while he is also closing in on 100 games for the province.
After being initially told that he was in the running for a call up, Messam called McMillan back earlier this week to tell him he wouldnt be able to play.
Billy Proctor is one of three midfield players named by Clayton McMillan in the MÄori All Blacks squad.
We give players a heads up around selection, because of short turnarounds with Super Rugby, so I try to make sure theyre in the know, McMillan said.
Not everyone, because we want to give some of them the surprise. But with Liam, its not his first rodeo and I wanted to let him know.
But the surgery opportunity came up late and it probably would have taken another six months to get the same surgery. So hes got to take that opportunity now.
Its just a tidy up, so its going to put him out of action for four to six weeks, McMillan added.
Thats not to take anything away from the Mori jersey, hes hugely passionate about it.
But hes an experienced campaigner now and he probably hasnt got too many more runs left on the board.
I know its going to be the icing on the cake for him if he gets to 100 games for Waikato and this is the year he probably needs to do it, so I support his decision to try to make that happen.
Its unlikely the Mori All Blacks will play any overseas games at the end of the year, so the two games against Samoa, at Sky Stadium in Wellington on June 26 and a double header alongside the All Blacks v Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 3, will be it for 2021.
To have two games is a step-up from last year when we played Moana Pasifika, McMillan said.
That was an awesome occasion, but to play Samoa, who are in the process of trying to qualify for the next World Cup, theyre going to be a formidable challenge.
It should all bode well for a fantastic series and its something unique, to play the same team two weeks in a row. You learn a lot from the first fixture and then its a bit of a race to see who can make the biggest shifts in the second week.
Hopefully, its them having to make the bigger shifts and not us!
AT A GLANCE
Mori All Blacks Squad
Josh Hohneck Otago, Ngti Manuhiri / Ngti Whtua
Pouri Rakete-Stones Hawkes Bay, Ngpuhi
Ollie Norris Waikato, Ngpuhi
Marcel Renata Auckland, Ngti Whnaunga / Ngi Takoto
Tamaiti Williams Canterbury, Ngpuhi
Ash Dixon (kpene) Hawkes Bay, Ngti Tahinga
Kurt Eklund Bay of Plenty, Ngti Kahu
Manaaki Selby-Rickit Bay Of Plenty, Ngti Raukawa / Ngti Twharetoa
Isaia Walker-Leawere Hawkes Bay, Ngti Porou
Pari Pari Parkinson Tasman, Te Whnau Apanui
Josh Dickson Otago, Ngi Tahu
Billy Harmon Canterbury, Ngi Tahu
Reed Prinsep Canterbury, Te Rrawa
Whetukamokamo Douglas Bay of Plenty Ngti Porou / Ngti Whakaue
Bryn Hall North Harbour, Ngti Ranginui
Sam Nock Northland, Ngpuhi
Otere Black Bay of Plenty, Ngi Tuhoe/Te Whnau Apanui/Ngti Twharetoa
Josh Ioane Otago, Te Rrawa
Billy Proctor Wellington, Ngai Te Rangi / Ngpuhi
Quinn Tupaea Waikato, Waikato
Alex Nankivell Tasman, Ngpuhi
Sean Wainui Bay of Plenty, Ngi Tuhoe / Ng Arikikaiputahi / Ngti Porou
Shaun Stevenson North Harbour, Ngpuhi
Jonah Lowe Hawkes Bay, Ngti Pikiao
Kaleb Trask Bay of Plenty, Ngpuhi