Blues can’t clue skipper Pritchard up on enigmatic Maori All Blacks

Web stock pictures.
Web stock pictures.

The enigmatic Maori All Blacks have a style of all their own according to Bedford Blues back Mark Atkinson who faced them for 25 minutes on Saturday, writes Mark Wood.

The touring side eased to a 52-21 victory over a select RFU Championship XV at Castle Park and Blues skipper James Pritchard will also get to face them soon when they take on Canada.

Bedford’s captain is currently on international duty with the Canucks, but Atkinson thinks it’s impossible to give him any real insight into how they play.

He said: “I spoke to some of the boys in the Canada camp earlier this week and they are looking forward to it. But I have a sneaky suspicion they will struggle against the Maori.

“The intensity they play at was quite something. I don’t think you can really feedback on the Maori, they’ve got that type of style. They’ve just got to find out for themselves really.”

The Haka proved particularly inspiring and Atkinson admitted it was a shame he then had to go and take his place among the substitutes.

“It was amazing,” he said, “I always enjoy the atmosphere and then the Haka and the only down point was going to the bench!”

Team-mate Jake Sharp says all the Blues will be tuning in to support Pritchard and warned that Canada must play with an element of structure if they are to curb the Maoris’ effectiveness.

He added: “The boys have obviously got to support James and with the game being streamed we will give him the support we can.

“Obviously Pritch is a stalwart face at Bedford and in the team. Hopefully they can do the job.

“They are a team that thrive off turnover ball and in the early stages when we played them the ball was a bit greasy.

“Their general style of play is very off the cuff and takes advantage of other team’s mistakes. You have to play with an element of structure.”