The first comprehensive history of the New Zealand Maori men's rugby team was launched at the Hall of Legends, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand earlier this week with Gloucester's Carlos Spencer named at fly half in the greatest Maori XV.
The live television broadcast included the announcement of a chosen best XV and was the much-anticipated highlight of the night.
Beneath the Maori Moon: An Illustrated History of Maori Rugby by Malcolm Mulholland (Huia Publishers) is a celebration of nearly one hundred years of Maori rugby- the songs, the joys, the battles, the teams and the overseas tours.
In the book the major matches are covered, controversies involving the players and team are answered, profiles of prominent players and administrators are given, as well as the politics behind the side including sporting contact with apartheid South Africa.
The book culminates with a panel of well-known rugby experts selecting the "Greatest Maori XV".
They are: fullback - George Nepia, wing - John Timu, wing - Rico Gear, centre - J.B. Smith, second five - Bill Osborne, first five - Carlos Spencer, halfback - Sid Going, no. 8 and Captain - Buck Shelford, flanker - Waka Nathan, flanker - Zinzan Brooke, lock - Tiny Hill, lock - Robin Brooke, prop - Steve McDowall, hooker - Hika Reid and prop - Carl Hayman.
At the launch, author Malcolm Mulholland noted the disappointment of rugby fans towards the New Zealand Rugby Union over their lack of commitment to the Maori team by 'suspending' them for the current season due to the economic recession.
He also pointed out that many Maori had been shocked by the original decision by the President's Council in South Africa to not allow the team to play the Springboks on their own soil but he was heartened by recent positive developments for the tour to possibly go ahead.
As the next year marks the centenary season of the Maori team, Mulholland proposed a 'World Centenary Tour'. He suggested that the tour begin by playing South Africa in Napier, New Zealand followed by flying over the Tasman Sea to play Australia, then to play all of the home nation sides, ending with a match against the French.
He feels it would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best that NZ rugby has to offer, especially one year out from the Rugby World Cup.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).