Kiwis Announce Their 2019 Super Squads

Thirty-three new players feature among the 190 professional players contracted by New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises for the 2019 season.

The five New Zealand based Super Rugby franchises, the Blues, Chiefs, Wellington, Crusaders and Highlanders have named their 38-strong squads after confirming the last of the remaining spots on their rosters.

Alongside familiar names, the squads include seven sets of brothers, and 33 names new to Super Rugby contracts, including 21 from the 2018 U20 development programme, demonstrating a strength in the emerging talent.

New Zealand Rugby Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum congratulated all 190 players officially confirmed by their respective clubs today.

Newly contracted players will attend a two-day induction at New Zealand Rugby, before reporting for duty with their new clubs on 29 November.

The Brothers:

There are seven sets of siblings – the Barretts, Beauden and Jordie (Hurricanes), and Scott (Crusaders); Rieko and Akira Ioane (Blues), Anton (Chiefs) and Daniel (Highlanders) Lienert-Brown; Damian and Marty McKenzie (Chiefs), Sam (Crusaders) and Luke (Highlanders) Whitelock, and twins Jack (Crusaders) and Josh (Blues) Goodhue from 2018 are joined by Matt and Billy Proctor (Chiefs).

The U20s:

Several players from the U20 development programme played in this year’s U20 World Championship, and now step up to Super Rugby – Hoskins Sotutu, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele’a, Laghlan McWhannell, Bailyn Sullivan, Leicester Faingaanuku, Ngane Punivai and Billy Proctor.

Returnees:

Players returning from overseas in 2019 are Ma’a Nonu (Blues), James Marshall (Hurricanes), Marty Banks (Highlanders), and Whetu Douglas (Crusaders).

Oldest & Youngest:

At 36, two-time World Cup winning All Black Ma’a Nonu, is the oldest of the 190 contracted players, while scrum-half and rookie Highlander Folau Fakatava is the most junior at age 18 (He turns 19 in December).

The Gene-pool

The genepool is strong across the squads:

– Hoskins Sotutu (son of Blues and Auckland speedster Waisake)
– Caleb Clarke (son of former All Black Eroni)
– Akira and Rieko Ioane (Manu Samoa capped dad Eddie & Black Fern mum Sandra)
– Scott, Beauden and Jordie Barrett (sons of iconic Taranaki rugby figure, Smiley Barrett)
– Jackson Garden Bachop (son of All Black Stephen and Black Fern, the late Sue Garden Bachop)
– Ethan Blackadder (son of former Crusaders player, coach and All Black captain Todd Blackadder)
– Bryn Gatland (son of Waikato stalwart, and Wales & British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland)
– Jack Whetton (son of All Black Gary Whetton)
– Thomas and Peter Umaga Jensen (their uncle Tana coaches the Blues)
– Pari Pari Parkinson (his uncle Matua Parkinson was a Maori All Black)

The Squads:

Blues

With just three exceptions, the Blues has looked internally to their own provincial unions and development programme to complete the line-up for the 2019 Super Rugby season.

The new Blues’ recruits signed to Super contracts for the first time are: Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Jacob Pierce, Tom Robinson, Marcel Renata, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele’a.

Veteran All Black Ma’a Nonu will return to a team he has played for across two seasons and joins with two new signings from Tasman in fellow midfield back Levi Aumua and loose forward Jed Brown.

The remainder of the 38-strong squad named were part of the 2018 side or from its three provincial unions of Northland, North Harbour and Auckland.

The Blues Squad:

Forwards: Alex Hodgman, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Sione Mafileo, Ezekial Lindenmuth, Marcel Renata, Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons, Jimmy Tupou, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali’i, Blake Gibson, Jed Brown, Akira Ioane, Tom Robinson

Backs: Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru, Sam Nock, Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, TJ Faiane, Levi Aumua, Caleb Clarke, Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Melani Nanai, Michael Collins, Jordan Trainor, Tanielu Tele’a

Chiefs

New recruits signing Super Rugby contracts for the first time are:

Reuben O’Neill, Pita Gus Sowakula, Laghlan McWhannell, Jack Debreczeni (ex-Rebels), Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan, Etene Nanai-Seturo

Sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo is one of four Chiefs squad members who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts in 2019, joining Taranaki and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O’Neill, New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola.

Taranaki prop O’Neill, 23, has had a rapid rise from provincial player to All Blacks wider squad member without playing a minute of Super Rugby. A versatile prop who can play both sides of the scrum, O’Neill caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors in the Mitre 10 Cup and was named in the wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour.

The Chiefs Squad:

Forwards: Kane Hames, Aidan Ross, Reuben O’Neill, Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Sosefo Kautai, Nathan Harris, Liam Polwart, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Finn Hoeata, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Laghlan McWhannell, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Teleni Seu, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Tyler Ardron

Backs: Brad Weber, Jonathan Taumateine, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Marty McKenzie, Baylin Sullivan, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Ataata Moeakiola, Jack Debreczeni, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Tumua Manu, Etene Nanai-Seturo

Crusaders

The Crusaders squad will feature five new players in 2019.
The new recruits signing Super Rugby contracts for the first time are:

Whetu Douglas, Leicester Faingaanuku, Harrison Allan, Brett Cameron, Ngane Punavai

There are two new additions to the forwards. Whetu Douglas returns to the side having played six times for the Crusaders during their 2017 season. Following a stint with Italian club, Benetton, the former Waikato player returned to Christchurch for Canterbury’s 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign where he was named as Co-Captain, but was ruled out midway through the season due to a fractured thumb.

21-year-old ​prop Harry Allan has been named in the team for the first time, although he has two Super Rugby caps to his name already; Allan debuted for the Crusaders against the Sunwolves in 2018, and then played the Rebels in Melbourne.

Two Canterbury backs will also join the squad in 2019, in team mates Brett Cameron and Ngane Punivai. Promising Tasman outside back, Leicester Faingaanuku, completes the 2019 squad for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders Squad:

Forwards: Joe Moody, Michael Alaalatoa, Harrison Allan, Oliver Jager, Owen Franks, Tim Perry, Codie Taylor, Ben Funnell, Andrew Makalio, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Quinten Strange, Mitchell Dunshea, Luke Romano, Billy Harmon, Tom Sanders, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Ethan Blackadder, Whetu Douglas, Kieran Read

Backs: Mitchell Drummond, Bryn Hall, Ere Enari, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Hunt, Brett Cameron, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Tim Bateman, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Manasa Mataele, Ngane Punavai, David Havili, Israel Dagg, Will Jordan, Leicester Faingaanuku

Highlanders

New signings are Ayden Johnstone, Sef Fa’agase, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Josh Iosefa Scott, Ray Niuia, Jack Whetton, Folau Fakatava

The Highlanders have just seven new caps amongst the 38 man squad with five of those in the forwards.

Hooker Ray Niuia from Tasman will be joined by Waikato props Ayden Johnstone and Josh Iosefa-Scott, both had standout seasons for the Championship winning Waikato team.

Former Wallaby squad member and Reds prop Sef Fa’agase has returned from Australia and after a good Mitre 10 season with Canterbury and will look to build a future with the Highlanders.

The Premiership winning Auckland side’s lock Jack Whetton (son of former All Black Gary Whetton) come in, while in the backs Bryn Gatland who played for the Blues in 2018 makes his way South. He will be joined by rookie 19 year old halfback Folau Fakatava from Hawkes Bay. Meanwhile, cult hero Marty Banks has been brought back to join young No 10 pair Josh Ioane and Gatland.

The Highlanders Squad:

Forwards: Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Tyrel Lomax, Sef Fa’agase, Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ray Niuia, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton, James Lentjes, Marino Makaele Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Liam Squire, Elliot Dixon, Luke Whitelock

Backs: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Marty Banks, Josh Ioane, Rob Thompson, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Matt Faddes, Richard Buckman, Sio Tomkinson, Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Tevita Nabura, Tei Walden, Tevita Li, Josh McKay

Hurricanes

There are six newly contracted players joining the ‘Canes: Fraser Armstrong, Liam Mitchell, Du Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Billy Proctor, Salesi Rayasi

The Hurricanes have opted for continuity with the selection of their 2019 squad. There are just six new faces in new head coach John Plumtree’s 38-man squad. As well as the players new to the squad, former Hurricanes utility back James Marshall returns to New Zealand rugby after playing in the United Kingdom and Japan while Bay of Plenty halfback Richard Judd is named in the squad after he made his debut in 2018 when he was called in as injury cover.

There are 12 players named in the squad who were part of the All Blacks 2018 campaign while four players – Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Jeff To’omaga-Allen and Dane Coles – are centurions of the Hurricanes club.

The Hurricanes Squad:

Forwards: Ben May, Chris Eves, Jeffrey To’omaga-Allen, Toby Smith, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, Asafo Aumua, Sam Lousi, Geoff Cridge, Isaia Walker Leaware, James Blackwell, Liam Mitchell, Heiden Bedwell Curtis, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, Sam Henwood, Reed Prinsep, Du Plessis Kirifi, Gareth Evans

Backs: TJ Perenara, Finlay Christie, Richard Judd, Beauden Barrett, Jackson Garden-Bachop, James Marshall, Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Fletcher Smith, Ben Lam, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi