New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises, the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Chiefs and Blues, have confirmed their squads for the 2018 season.
Familiar names with unfamiliar faces, 42 new recruits, nine sets of brothers including two twins are included in the squads which were named on Wednesday.
A total of 190 professional players have been signed for the new season – 38 for each of the New Zealand Super Rugby clubs – the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders.
There are nine 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), Dan (Highlanders) and Kara (Blues) Pryor, Ardie and Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Sam (Crusaders) and Luke (Highlanders) Whitelock and twins Peter (Hurricanes) and Thomas (Highlanders) Umaga-Jensen and Jack (Crusaders) and Josh (Blues) Goodhue.
13 of those named were part of the World Champion winning New Zealand U20 side – Dalton Papalii, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke and Tamati Tua (Blues), Tiaan Falcon and Luke Jacobson (Chiefs), Alex Fidow, Asafo Aumua and Isaia Walker-Leawere (Hurricanes), Braydon Ennor and Will Jordan (Crusaders) and Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Josh McKay (Highlanders).
Among some of the unfamiliar faces, are some names very familiar to New Zealand rugby – the more well-known of them being Blues brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane, sons of former Black Fern Sandra Wihongi, Caleb Clarke (son of All Blacks Eroni Clarke) has been picked up by the Blues, Jackson Garden-Bachop (son of All Black Stephen Bachop) who has been picked by the Hurricanes after an outstanding Mitre 10 Cup season, Bryn Gatland (son of Wales and British & Irish Lions coach Warren) returns to the Blues, while Ethan Blackadder, who has been plying his trade with solid season at the Tasman Makos, has been signed by the Crusaders, the team his father Todd, had previously coached. Pari Pari Parkinson, nephew of Maori All Black and Bay of Plenty legend Matua Parkinson, is a new signing for the competition and the Highlanders.
Caleb Clarke gets another mention in the record books – at 18, he will enter the 2018 season as the youngest contracted player, with Tasman stalwart and captain, Alex Ainley returning for another season with the Highlanders, and who at 36, is at the other end of the birthday list.
Another seasoned veteran – Mike Delany, who last played Super Rugby in 2011 for the Chiefs, has come back from a stint overseas to play a critical role for Bay of Plenty in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup, and earning himself a seat at the Crusaders’ table.
New Zealand Rugby’s Head of Rugby, Neil Sorensen, congratulated all the coaching and management teams and all 42 new players.
The Blues have signed eight rookies, the Chiefs and Hurricanes, 10 each, the Crusaders, five, and the Highlanders nine new players.
“There is no doubt that New Zealand talent is the most exciting on the planet,” Sorensen told the All Blacks’ official website.
“Congratulations to all those picked for the first time – this is a special time for them and their families.
“We know from previous seasons, that emerging talent comes through all the time, and what’s exciting is to see players lift their performance around the rugby environment.
New Zealand Super Rugby squads for 2018:
Forwards: Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Pauliasi Manu, Isaac Salmon, Mike Tamoaieta, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jimmy Tupou, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Dalton Papalii, Glenn Preston, Kara Pryor, Murphy Taramai
Backs: Sam Nock, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru, Otere Black/Daniel Kirkpatrick, Bryn Gatland, Stephen Perofeta, Matt Johnson, George Moala, Tamati Tua, TJ Faiane, Sonny Bill Williams, Caleb Clarke, Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor
Forwards: Liam Polwart, Nathan Harris, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross, Atu Moli, Kane Hames, Mitchell Graham, Nepo Laulala, Sosefo Kautai, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Fin Hoeata, Michael Allardice, Lachlan Boshier, Liam Messam, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Brown, Mitchell Karpik, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Tyler Ardron
Backs: Brad Weber, Jonathan Taumateine, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, Johnny Fa’auli, Regan Verney, Levi Aumua, Sam McNicol, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Toni Pulu, Tim Nanai-Williams
Forwards: Ben Funnell, Andrew Makalio, Codie Taylor, Mike Alaalatoa, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Oliver Jager, Joe Moody, Tim Perry, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Sam Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Billy Harmon, Kieran Read, Tom Sanders, Pete Samu, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd
Backs: Mitchell Drummond, Bryn Hall, Jack Stratton, Mike Delany, Mitchell Hunt, Richie Mo’unga, Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Israel Dagg, David Havili, Will Jordan, Jone Macilai, Manasa Mataele, Seta Tamanivalu
Forwards: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Tyrel Lomax, Guy Millar, Aki Seiuli, Siate Tokolahi, Kalolo Tuiloma, Alex Ainley, Josh Dickson, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Elliot Dixon, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, James Lentjes, Dan Pryor, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock
Backs: Kayne Hammington, Josh Renton, Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Fletcher Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Richard Buckman, Patelesio Tomkinson, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Matt Faddes, Tevita Li, Josh McKay, Tevita Nabura, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith
Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Alex Fidow, Reg Goodes, Ben May, Toby Smith, Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, James Blackwell, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Sam Lousi, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Gareth Evans, Vaea Fifita, Sam Henwood, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson
Backs: Jamie Booth, Finlay Christie, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Va’a, Ihaia West, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea