The Tasman Mako are set to roam in uncharted waters next year.
It was announced late last week that the team will travel to North America in January for two exhibition games.
First up they will face the ambitious Houston SaberCats in Texas before heading to the Pacific Northwest to take on the reigning Major League Rugby [MRL] champions, the Seattle Seawolves, at Starfire Stadium in Washington on January 26.
The Mako will have their work cut out, especially against the Seawolves, who will be in their third season of MRL and have high hopes of defending their title in 2020.
Both the SaberCats and the Seawolves were inaugural members of the professional MLR set-up, which began in 2018.
The Mako touring squad will be led to the USA by long-serving prop Tim Perry.
The former All Black said, “It is a privilege to lead the Mako on their first overseas tour and we’re looking forward to the games in Houston and Seattle in January.
“It is an incredible opportunity for the next generation of Mako players to play competitively in the United States and a unique opportunity for the Tasman Rugby Union for which we are all grateful.”
Tasman Rugby Union CEO Tony Lewis said, “We believe this a unique opportunity, not only for the Tasman region to showcase our rugby talent, but also for the region’s exporters to promote themselves in these two markets.”
Shane Skinner, owner and president of the Seawolves, added, “I am honoured to have the Tasman Mako come and provide a great competition for our players and a unique experience for our fans.”
The Tasman team will be chosen by the Mako selectors from contracted players without Super Rugby contracts, plus those who impress for Tasman B and the Mako under-19s. It will be named in late October.