Thirty-three new faces feature among the 190 professional players contracted by New Zealand’s five Investec Super Rugby clubs for the 2019 season.
The Blues, Chiefs, Wellington, Crusaders and Highlanders have named their 38-strong squads today 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 Under 20 development programme, demonstrating a strength in the emerging talent.
The new recruits signing Super Rugby contracts for the first time are:
Karl Tu’inkuafe, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Jacob Pierce, Tom Robinson, Marcel Renata, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele’a
Reuben O’Neill, Pita Gus Sowakula, Laghlan McWhannell, Jack Debreczeni, Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan, Etene Nanai-Seturo
Fraser Armstrong, Liam Mitchell, Du Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Billy Proctor, Salesi Rayasi
Whetukamokamo Douglas, Leicester Faingaanuku, Harrison Allan, Brett Cameron, Ngane Punivai
Ayden Johnstone, Sef Fa’agase, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Josh Iosefa Scott, Ray Niuia, Jack Whetton, Folau Fakatava
Nine players from the Under 20 development programme went on to play in this year’s Under 20 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 (Hurricanes).
Players returning from offshore next year are Ma’a Nonu (Blues), James Marshall (Hurricanes), Marty Banks (Highlanders), and Whetukamokamo Douglas (Crusaders).
At 36, two-time World Cup winning All Black Nonu, is the oldest of the 190 contracted, while halfback and rookie Highlander Folau Fakatava is the most junior at age 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.
“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,” he said.
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 2019 season officially kicks off on 15 February.
Full Investec Super Rugby squad profiles
Chiefs 2019 squad
Hurricanes 2019 squad
Highlanders 2019 squad
Crusaders 2019 squad
Blues 2019 squad