Highlanders boast strong squad

The New Zealand franchises have announced their Super Rugby squads.

The Highlanders have named 10 All Blacks in their squad, with hooker Andrew Hore taking over the captaincy from loosehead prop Jamie Mackintosh.

The Otago franchise’s highlight additions are centre Ma’a Nonu and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock from the Blues.

Flank Adam Thomson is the major omission as he has sealed a deal to play overseas next year.

Defending champions the Chiefs have gained All Blacks lock Ross Filipo, who featured on the Test scene in 2007 and 2008. Filipo once played for the Crusaders before enjoying overseas stints with Bayonne and the London Wasps.

Seven-time champions the Crusaders have announced nine newbies in their squad. They are hooker Codie Taylor, fullback Johnny McNicholl, props Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala, lock Dominic Bird, and loose forwards Shane Christie, Jordan Taufua and Jimmy Tupou.

The Christchurch franchise have also recruited Samoan Jeremy Su’a to bolster their scrumhalf ranks.

The Hurricanes look set to build on this year’s surprise campaign, having signed Tongan scrumhalf Samisoni Fisilau, Crusaders prop Ben Franks and six newbies in centre Rey Lee-Lo, flank Ardie Savea, wing Matt Proctor, prop Eric Sione, flank Blade Thomson and utility back James Marshall.

The Blues have replaced the loss of Nonu with Auckland star Malakai Fekitoa and Chiefs centre Jackson Willison. The inclusion of prop Tim Perry eases Woodcock’s departure.

BLUES

Backs - Frank Halai, Waisake Naholo, Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger, Marty McKenzie, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes. Scrumhalves: Bryn Hall, Piri Weepu, Jamison Gibson-Park.
Forwards - Kane Barrett, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Brendon O’Connor, Ronald Raaymakers, Peter Saili, Anthony Boric, Liaki Moli, Culum Retallick, Ali Williams, Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tim Perry, Angus Ta’avao, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Keven Mealamu, Quentin MacDonald, James Parsons.

CHIEFS

Backs - Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Patrick Osborne, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki, Richard Kahui, Charlie Ngatai, Gareth Anscombe, Aaron Cruden. Scrumhalves: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brendon Leonard, August Pulu.
Forwards - Fritz Lee, Sam Cane, Nick Crosswell, Ross Filipo, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Craig Clarke, Mike Fitzgerald, Romana Graham, Brodie Retallick, Ben Afeaki, Josh Hohneck, Toby Smith, Solomona Sakalia, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Rhys Marshall, Mahonri Schwalger.

CRUSADERS

Backs - Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Robbie Fruean, Zac Guildford, Willie Heinz, Tom Marshall, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock, Jeremy Su’a, Johnny McNicholl, Andy Ellis
Forwards - Dominic Bird, Shane Christie, Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Nepo Laulala, Richie McCaw, Joe Moody, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.

HIGHLANDERS

Backs - Phil Burleigh, Tamati Ellison, Jason Emery, Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu, Declan O’Donnell, Kade Poki, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoalii, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby.
Forwards - Josh Bekhuis, Tim Boys, Liam Coltman, Elliot Dixon, Ma’afu Fia, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata, Andrew Hore, Chris King, Jamie Mackintosh, Nasi Manu, Brayden Mitchell, Jake Paringatai, Brad Thorn, Joe Wheeler, Tony Woodcock.

HURRICANES

Backs - Cory Jane, James Marshall, Julian Savea, Andrew Taylor, Matt Proctor, Tim Bateman, Rey Lee-Lo, Alapati Leuia, Conrad Smith, Beauden Barrett, Tuis Pisi, Samisoni Fisilau, TJ Perenara, Chris Smylie.
Forwards – Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Karl Lowe, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, Victor Vito, James Broadhurst, Jason Eaton, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Reggie Goodes, Ben May, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Eric Sione, Dane Coles, Motu Matu’u.