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Kiwi Not so Super squads named


Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Super Rugby on 2 Nov 2011 at 19:02
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

New Zealand’s playing stocks are being tested, with the naming of the five Super Rugby squads revealing the front row and first-five are worryingly light on proven and experienced players.

Rugbyheaven NZ reports that the Blues and Crusaders have weathered the pre- and post-World Cup exodus best and shape as the strongest of the Kiwi teams, while the Highlanders have further bolstered a squad that ticks most of the boxes.

The Chiefs have a Rolls Royce backline built around late-signing Sonny Bill Williams but, like the Hurricanes, thin out quickly, most notably in the tight five.

There were few surprises when the 153 top professional players were unveiled, though Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph raised a few eyebrows in naming England No 8 James Haskell.

Haskell is one of five foreign players who featured at the Rugby World Cup.

Samoan captain Mahonri Schwalger, lock Kane Thompson and Tongan prop Sona Taumalolo are at the Chiefs, while Samoa’s first-five Tusi Pisi is with the Hurricanes.

With at least 27 players from last year’s squads heading off-shore, there were always going to be some big gaps to fill.

Many fans will not be familiar with some of the names on the teamsheets. There are 28 players across the squads who have not played Super Rugby before and most notable is the emergence of a crop of rookie front rowers.

At the Blues few will know much about 21-year-old prop Angus Ta’avao, the Hurricanes’ Reg Goodes, 19, Chiefs giant Ben Tameifuna, 20, or Crusader Nicholas Barrett, 22.

At first-five, the Chiefs look thin outside Aaron Cruden, with Robbie Robinson the only other obvious specialist in a squad padded out with seven players from Hawke’s Bay and three from Manawatu.

They include unproven quantities such as Fijian wings Maritino Nemani and Asaeli Tikoirotuma as well as sevens star Declan O’Donnell.

It’s the sharp end of a new direct franchise contracting model that has spread provincial talent far and wide and challenged old provincial links to any one side.

The Highlanders, in particular, are a mish-mash of players from every corner of the country, including four from Manawatu, four from Wellington and two from Taranaki.

The Blues have an ominous feel, notwithstanding a backline bolstered by Hurricanes Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu. The pack has a mix of experience with seven current or former All Blacks and good depth built around proven performers like flankers Luke Braid and Peter Saili and locks Filo Paulo and Liaki Moli.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder’s side features the naming of four Whitelock brothers after flanker Luke joined lock Sam, openside George and back Adam in the squad.

Last year’s finalists look strong again with 12 All Blacks and the arrival of lock Tom Donnelly from the Highlanders and the return to Super Rugby of former Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Hurricanes lock Ross Kennedy plugging the hole left by the retirement of Brad Thorn.

The competition starts on February 24 when the Blues play the Crusaders at Eden Park.

How they line up

BLUES

Hookers: Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney.

Props: Charlie Faumuina, Tevita Mailau, Pauliasi Manu, Angus Ta’avao, Tony Woodcock.

Locks: Anthony Boric, Liaki Moli, Filo Paulo, Ali Williams, Brad Mika.

Loose forwards: Daniel Braid, Luke Braid, Jerome Kaino, Chris Lowrey, Peter Saili.

Halfbacks: Alby Mathewson, Piri Weepu.

First-fives: Lachie Munro, Gareth Anscombe.

Midfield: Ma’a Nonu, Benson Stanley, Michael Hobbs.

Outsides: Isaia Toeava, Sherwin Stowers, Rudi Wulf, Rene Ranger, David Raikuna, George Moala.

CHIEFS

Hookers: Hika Elliot, Mahonri Schwalger.

Props: Ben Afeaki, Toby Smith, Sona Taumalolo, Shane Cleaver, Ben Tameifuna.

Locks: Kane Thompson, Craig Clarke, Romana Graham, Michael Fitzgerald, Brodie Retallick.

Loose forwards: Fritz Lee, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Scott Waldrom, Sam Cane, Alex Bradley.

Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brendon Leonard.

First-fives: Aaron Cruden.

Midfield: Andrew Horrell, Jackson Willison, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui.

Outsides: Lelia Masaga, Maritino Nemani, Tim Nanai-Williams, Robbie Robinson, Aseli Tikoirotuma, Declan O’Donnell.

CRUSADERS

Hookers: Corey Flynn, Quentin MacDonald, Ben Funnell.

Props: Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Nicholas Barrett.

Locks: Sam Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Luke Romano, Joe Wheeler, Ross Kennedy.

Loose forwards: Richie McCaw, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Kieran Read, Luke Whitelock.

Halfbacks: Andy Ellis, Willi Heinz.

First-fives: Dan Carter, Tom Taylor, Tyler Bleyendaal.

Midfield: Ryan Crotty, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean.

Outsides: Tom Marshall, Patrick Osborne, Zac Guildford, Sean Maitland, Israel Dagg.

HIGHLANDERS

Hookers: Andrew Hore, Jason Rutledge.

Props: Jamie Mackintosh, Chris King, Bronson Murray, Ma’afu Fia.

Locks: Josh Bekhuis, Jarrad Hoeata, Culum Retallick. Loose forwards: Adam Thomson, Nick Crosswell, John Hardie, Doug Tietjens, Nasi Manu, Elliot Dixon, James Haskell.

Halfbacks: Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Smith.

First-fives: Colin Slade, Lima Sopoaga, Chris Noakes.

Midfield: Shaun Treeby, Tamati Ellison, Kendrick Lynn, Siale Piutau.

Outsides: Hosea Gear, Kade Poki, Telusa Veainu, Kurt Baker, Ben Smith.



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