So where’s the Maori?
A Samoan led the All Blacks’ opening haka of the season in last weekend’s test match against Ireland.
Not that I have anything against Samoans, or those that lead our haka, like Kevin Mealamu.
But it must have been the first time in years that Maori have had no representation in the starting All Black 15.
My old dad would be turning in his grave.
Growing up in the 70s, I’ll never forget my dad counting the number of Maori in the team because many players until 1970 were victims of racism.
The New Zealand Rugby Union left Maori players out of teams that went to South Africa because the South African Union said it would play against the All Blacks only if Maori players were omitted.
To their eternal shame, the New Zealand Rugby Union conceded to that racist demand.
What many forget is that Maori weren’t only discriminated against in the years All Black teams toured South Africa, but also in the years before, since there was no point selecting Maori who couldn’t go to South Africa a few years later.
A few still managed to get selected, but it was generally thought by Maori that those who made it had to be two or three times better than their Pakeha counterparts.
Far too many great Maori players missed out, like Albie Pryor, Maunga Emery, Teroi Tataurangi, Muru Walters, Jim and Manu Maniapoto, Jim Taitoko and Howard Paiaka.
All were legends of Maori rugby but ignored by the New Zealand selectors.
I said a few years ago in NZ Rugby World magazine that Maori were entitled to an apology from the union for those shameful years and I stand by that comment.
I’m not accusing today’s selectors of racism. I’m sure they picked the best available players.
Heck, there were eight Samoan players in that first test team.
But if they could just find one or two more Maori, maybe Piri Weepu or Troy Flavell, then I’d be happy and I’m sure dad would be too.