Cape Town - Thirty-three new players feature among the 190 professional players contracted by New Zealand's five Super Rugby franchises for the 2019 season.
The Blues, Chiefs, Wellington, Crusaders and Highlanders have named their 38-strong squads on Wednesday 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.
The new recruits signing Super Rugby contracts for the first time are:
Blues: Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Jacob Pierce, Tom Robinson, Marcel Renata, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele'a
Chiefs: Reuben O’Neill, Pita Gus Sowakula, Laghlan McWhannell, Jack Debreczeni, Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan, Etene Nanai-Seturo
Crusaders: Whetu Douglas, Leicester Faingaanuku, Harrison Allan, Brett Cameron, Ngane Punavai
Highlanders: Ayden Johnstone, Sef Fa’agase, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Josh Iosefa Scott, Ray Niuia, Jack Whetton, Folau Fakatava
Hurricanes: Fraser Armstrong, Liam Mitchell, Du Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Billy Proctor, Salesi Rayasi
Several players from the U20 development programme went on to play in this year’s U20 World Championship - Hoskins Sotutu, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele’a, Laghlan McWhannell, Bailyn Sullivan, Leicester Faingaanuku, Ngane Punivai and Billy Proctor.
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 were listed in the super siblings club in 2018 and this year they are joined by Matt and Billy Proctor (Chiefs).
Players returning from offshore next year are Ma’a Nonu (Blues), James Marshall (Hurricanes), Marty Banks (Highlanders), and Whetu Douglas (Crusaders).
At 36, two-time World Cup winning All Black Nonu, is the oldest of the 190 contracted, while scrumhalf and rookie Highlander Folau Fakatava is the most junior at 18 (19 in December).
Pedigree 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 (Manu Samoa dad Eddie & Black Fern mum Sandra)
- Scott, Beauden and Jordie (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 Blacks 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)
New Zealand Rugby Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum congratulated all 190 players officially confirmed by their respective clubs today.
“It is a real testament to our development programmes across the country that we have so many young players of real quality contracted for the new season," he said.
“The Under 20 programme continues to be an important pathway for young players, and our Super Rugby clubs and Provincial Unions do an outstanding job in developing players also. There was some great talent on display during Mitre 10 Cup, making the selection job for coaches very difficult.
“Super Rugby continues to deliver world-class rugby viewing and all five New Zealand clubs are constantly innovating and working hard to ensure their teams are exciting, the games are entertaining, and the competition is thrilling.”
Newly contracted players will attend a two-day induction at New Zealand Rugby, before reporting for duty with their new clubs on November 29.
Props: Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tu'ungafasi
Hookers: Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons
Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu
Loose forwards: Jed Brown, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, Jimmy Tupou
Scrumhalves: Sam Nock, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru
Flyhalves: Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer
Centres: Levi Aumua, TJ Faiane, Ma’a Nonu, Tanielu Tele’a, Sonny Bill Williams
Outside Backs: Caleb Clarke, Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor
Props: Kane Hames, Aidan Ross, Reuben O’Neill, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Sosefo Kautai, Angus Ta’avao
Hookers: Nathan Harris Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei’aho
Locks: Brodie Retallick, Tyler Ardron, Laghlan McWhannell, Michael Allardice, Fin Hoeata
Loose forwards: Mitchell Brown, Taleni Seu, Sam Cane, Mitchell Karpik, Lachlan Boshier, Luke Jacobson, Pita Gus Sowakula
Scrumhalves: Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jonathan Taumateine
Flyhalves: Damian McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Jack Debreczeni
Centres: Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside backs: Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Ataata Moeakiola, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Marty McKenzie
Props: Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, Owen Franks, Oliver Jager, Joe Moody, Tim Perry
Hookers: Ben Funnell, Andrew Makalio, Codie Taylor
Locks: Scott Barrett, Quinten Strange, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock
Loose forwards: Ethan Blackadder, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea, Billy Harmon, Kieran Read, Tom Sanders, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd
Scrumhalves: Mitchell Drummond, Ereatara Enari, Bryn Hall
Flyhalves: Brett Cameron, Mitchell Hunt, Richie Mo’unga
Centres: Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngane Punivai
Outside backs: George Bridge, Israel Dagg, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Faingaanuku, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ray Niuia
Props: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Tyrel Lomax, Sef Fa’agase
Locks: Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Paripari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton
Loose forwards: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon
Scrumhalves: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava
Flyhalves: Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Marty Banks
Centres: Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Richard Buckman, Matt Faddes, Thomas Umaga-Jensen
Outside Backs: Waisake Naholo, Tevita Li, Tevita Nabura , Josh McKay, Ben Smith
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli
Props: Fraser Armstrong, Chris Eves, Alex Fidow, Ben May, Toby Smith, Jeff To’omaga-Allen
Locks: James Blackwell, Geoff Cridge, Sam Lousi, Liam Mitchell, Isaia Walker-Leawere
Loose forwards: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Gareth Evans, Vaea Fifita, Sam Henwood, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea
Scrumhalves: Finlay Christie, Richard Judd, TJ Perenara
Flyhalves: Beauden Barrett, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith
Centres: Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Billy Proctor, Matt Proctor
Outside backs: Jordie Barrett, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Nehe Milner-Skudder, James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi