All 12 competing squads for the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season were confirmed today including Australia's five teams and new entrants Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua. Each of New Zealand’s five Super Rugby Pacific squads have been bolstered by notable players who were plying their trade on foreign shores in 2021 including Beauden Barrett (Blues), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), TJ Perenara and Dominic Bird (Hurricanes), Pablo Matera (Crusaders) and Marty Banks and Rhys Marshall (Highlanders).
There has also been some movement on the transfer market with 12 players making a move between New Zealand's five clubs, and a further nine players moving to a newly minted Moana Pasifika squad featuring Wallabies veterans Sekope Kepu and Christian Lealifano.
Among New Zealand Rugby’s five Super Rugby Pacific squads there are 31 ‘rookies’, defined as those players who have signed their first full-time Super Rugby contracts in 2022, only slightly up on the 26 selected in 2021.
There is a total of 190 NZR contracted players across the Blues, Gallagher Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes. A total of 38 players have been contracted by Moana Pasifika.
The official New Zealand Rugby (NZR) rookies’ class of 2022 is:
Highlanders (6): Saula Ma’u, Max Hicks, Sam Caird, Sean Withy, Mosese Dawai, Josh Timu
Crusaders (5): Shilo Klein, Finlay Brewis, Zach Gallagher, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow
Gallagher Chiefs (4): Tyrone Thompson, Samipeni Finau, Cortez Ratima, Gideon Wrampling
Hurricanes (9): James O’Reilly, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Tyler Laubscher, Caleb Delany, TK Howden, Cam Roigard, Aidan Morgan, Josh Moorby
Blues (7): Jordan Lay, Anton Segner, Cameron Suafua, Adrian Choat, Taufa Funaki, Corey Evans, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Among the ‘rookies’, defined as players who have earned a full Super Rugby contract for the first time is new Blues signing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the former New Zealand Warriors star providing an exciting boost to his new club’s midfield stocks.
Wellington hooker James O’Reilly’s perseverance and determination earns his first full Super Rugby contract with the Hurricanes five years after making his debut for the club.
Players returning to Super Rugby after a lengthy absence include Highlanders hooker Rhys Marshall who last played Super Rugby (for the Chiefs) in 2016 before heading to Ireland where he played six seasons for the famous Munster club.
First-five Beauden Barrett (Blues), lock Retallick (Chiefs) and halfback Perenara (Hurricanes) return from stints in Japan, while lock Bird is back after five years in France and prop Owen Franks from England but in doubt for 2022 due to an Achilles injury suffered in training.
NZR General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said:
“It’s hard to remember a time when there were so many talking points and so much talent spread across our five squads and when you throw Moana Pasifika into the mix you get a real sense of the anticipation and excitement about the new Super Rugby Pacific competition.
“It’s great to see some of the experience and knowledge that has returned to New Zealand and those players will be invaluable on and off the field where they set the example and standard for our rookies.
“There has been some movement in among the teams which has spread some of the talent and the new format will provide a real test of depth and tactics as they chase a place in the eight-team playoffs.”
There are 15 sets of brothers across the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Crusaders and Moana Pasifika squads, but only three sets play for the same team – Akira and Rieko Ioane (Blues), Julian and Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) and Bryn and Gareth Evans (Highlanders).
The other brothers are Beauden (Blues) Jordie (Hurricanes) and Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Peter and Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Hurricanes & Highlanders), Ofa and Isi Tuungafasi (Blues & Moana Pasifika), Jack and Josh Goodhue (Crusaders & Blues), Ngatungane Punivai and Isaiah Punivai (Highlanders & Crusaders), Bailyn and Zarn Sullivan (Hurricanes & Blues), Jackson and Connor Garden-Bachop (Hurricanes & Highlanders), Sione and Tevita Mafileo (Chiefs & Hurricanes), Tima and Leicester Fainga’anuku (Moana Pasifika & Crusaders), Lotu and Fine Inisi (Moana Pasifika), William and David Havili (Moana Pasifika & Crusaders) and Daniel & Anton Leinert-Brown (Highlanders & Chiefs).
New Zealand's five 2022 Super Rugby Pacific squads are listed below:
Hookers: Kurt Eklund, Soane Vikena, Ricky Riccitelli
Props: Alex Hodgman, Jordan Lay, Ofa Tuungafasi, Marcel Renata, Nepo Laulala, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Locks: James Tucker, Josh Goodhue, Sam Darry, Luke Romano.
Loose forwards: Taine Plumtree, Tom Robinson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Anton Segner, Hoskins Sotutu, Cameron Suafoa, Adrian Choat
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie, Sam Nock, Taufa Funaki
Inside backs: Beauden Barrett, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta
Midfield: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tanielu Tele’a, Rieko Ioane, Corey Evans, Tamati Tua
Outside backs: Mark Telea, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Zarn Sullivan.
Unavailable due to injury: James Lay
Gains: Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors); Beauden Barrett (Japan); Jordan Lay (Auckland); Riccitelli (Hurricanes); Romano (Crusaders); Tucker (Brumbies); Funaki (Auckland); Corey Evans (Auckland); Tua (Northland); Suafoa (North Harbour); Choat (Auckland); Segner (Tasman)
On the move: Blake Gibson (Hurricanes); Emoni Narawa (Chiefs); Otere Black (Japan); TJ Faiane (Japan); Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (Japan); Patrick Tuipulotu (Japan); Jacob Pierce (Japan); Ray Nuia (Moana Pasifika), Luteru Tolai (Moana Pasifika); Jonathan Ruru (France); Dillon Hunt (Retired)
Hookers: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Bradley Slater, Tyrone Thompson
Props: Aidan Ross, Atunaisa Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Reuben O’Neill
Locks: Tupou Vaa’i, Brodie Retallick, Laghlan McWhannell, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Josh Lord
Loose Forwards: Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Simon Parker, Pita Gus Sowakula, Kaylum Boshier, Samipeni Finau
Halfbacks: Brad Weber, Xavier Roe, Cortez Ratima
First five-eighths: Bryn Gatland, Kaleb Trask, Josh Ioane
Midfielders: Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Rameka Poihipi, Gideon Wrampling
Outside backs: Jonah Lowe, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Chase Tiatia, Shaun Stevenson, Rivez Reihana
Gains: Ioane (Highlanders); Retallick (Japan); Narawa (Blues); Thompson (Wellington); Finau (Waikato); Ratima (Waikato); Wrampling (Waikato)
On the move: Damian McKenzie (Japan); Lachlan Boshier (Japan); Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Crusaders), Kini Naholo (Crusaders); Bailyn Sullivan (Hurricanes); Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Moana Pasifika); Viliame Taulani (England); Nathan Harris (Retired)
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, James O’Reilly
Props: Tevita Mafileo, Alex Fidow, Xavier Numia, Tyrel Lomax, Pasilio Tosi, Pouri Rakete-Stones
Locks: James Blackwell, Dom Bird, Scott Scrafton, Justin Sangster
Loose forwards: Brayden Iose, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Blake Gibson, Ardie Savea, Tyler Laubscher, Devan Flanders, Caleb Delany, TK Howden
Halfbacks: Jamie Booth, TJ Perenara, Cam Roigard
First fives: Aidan Morgan, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ruben Love
Midfield: Teihorangi Walden, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside backs: Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Pepesana Patafilo, Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen, Josh Moorby
Unavailable due to injury: Owen Franks, Isaia Walker-Leawere
Gains: Bird (France); Gibson (Blues); Walden (Taranaki); Sullivan (Chiefs); Tosi (Bay of Plenty); Sangster (Bay of Plenty); Laubscher (Manawatu); Morgan (Wellington); Roigard (Counties-Manukau); Moorby (Southland); Delaney (Wellington); Howden (Manawatu), Franks (England)
On the move: Ngani Laumape (France); Vince Aso (Japan); Vaea Fifita (England), Ricky Riccitelli (Blues); Gareth Evans (Highlanders); Simon Hickey (Crusaders); Lolagi Visinia (Moana Pasifika), Jonathan Taumateine (Moana Pasifika); Orbyn Leger (Japan); Danny Toala (Moana Pasifika) Luke Campbell (France); Liam Mitchell (Italy); Kane Leaupepe (Retired); Fraser Armstrong (Retired)
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Brodie McAlister, Shilo Klein
Props: Joe Moody, Oli Jager, Fletcher Newell, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Finlay Brewis
Locks: Scott Barrett, Quinten Strange, Mitchell Dunshea, Sam Whitelock, Zach Gallagher
Loose forwards: Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili Talitui, Cullen Grace, Pablo Matera, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow
Halfbacks: Mitch Drummond, Bryn Hall, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
First fives: Richie Mo’unga, Simon Hickey, Fergus Burke
Midfield: Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Isaiah Punivai, Dallas McLeod
Outside backs: Chay Fihaki, George Bridge, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Kini Naholo
Gains: Matera (Argentina); Tahuriorangi (Chiefs); Naholo (Chiefs); Hickey (Hurricanes); Gardiner (Canterbury); Brewis (Canterbury); Gallagher (Canterbury); Klein (Canterbury); Kellow (Canterbury)
On the move: Isileli Tuungafasi (Moana Pasifika); Andrew Makalio (Highlanders); Michael Alaalatoa (Ireland); Whetukamokamo Douglas (Japan); Tom Sanders (Japan); Ereatara Enari (Moana Pasifika); Brett Cameron (Japan); Manasa Mataele (Force), Luke Romano (Blues); Josh McKay (Scotland)
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Rhys Marshall, Andrew Makalio
Props: Ayden Johnstone, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan de Groot, Jermaine Ainsley, Josh Hohneck, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u
Locks: Maanaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Max Hicks, Sam Caird
Loose forwards: James Lentjes, Billy Harmon, Hugh Renton, Shannon Frizell, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Gareth Evans, Sean Withy
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, Folau Fakatava, Kayne Hammington
First fives: Marty Banks, Mitchell Hunt
Midfield: Fetuli Paea, Patelesio Tomkinson, Solomon Alaimalo, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ngatungane Punivai, Scott Gregory
Outside backs: Connor Garden-Bachop, Mosese Dawai, Vilimoni Koroi, Sam Gilbert, Josh Timu
Unavailable due to injury: Jona Nareki, Pari Pari Parkinson
Gains: Gareth Evans (Hurricanes); Makalio (Crusaders); Banks (Southland); Dawai (Waikato); Marshall (Ireland); Timu (Otago); Withy (Otago), Ma’u (Otago), Hicks (Tasman), Caird (Northland).
On the move: Josh Ioane (Chiefs); Ash Dixon (Japan); Siate Tokolahi (France); Kazuki Himeno (Japan); Teariki Ben-Nicholas (France); Michael Collins (Wales); Tim O’Malley (Italy); Jack Regan (Wales); Liam Squire (Retired)
The Moana Pasifika Super Rugby Pacific squad is:
Hookers: Ray Niuia, Sam Moli, Luteru Tolai
Props: Sekope Kepu, Isileli Tuungafasi, Joe Apikatoa, Tau Koloamatangi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris Apoua
Locks: Don Lolo, Mike McKee, Veikoso Poliniati, Alex McRobbie
Loose Forwards: Henry Stowers, Jack Lam, Sione Tuipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Penitoa Finau, Lotu Inisi, Sam Slade, Alamanda Motuga
Halfbacks: Ereatara Enari, Jonathan Taumateine, Manu Paea
First-fives: Christian Lealifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili
Midfield: Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Henry Taefu, Fine Inisi
Outside Backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Solomone Kata, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tima Fainga'anuku, Anzelo Tuituvuki