The New Zealand Super 14 teams have announced their squads for the 2009 Super 14, kicking off in February next year.
Although there is a great deal of continuity (and very little movement) to the squads named, it is in coaching staff where the biggest impacts may be felt. Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has moved on to bigger things, handing the reigns to Canterbury stalwart Todd Blackadder – the big man’s debut season at this level of coaching. Last year’s big underachievers, the Blues, will also be lead by a former player, Samoan loose forward Pat Lam. Last year’s Blues coach, David Nucifora, also washed his hands of New Zealand rugby at the end of lat year and is back in his native Australia.
The Crusaders will be without Dan Carter this year and it remains to be seen whether the departure of their match-winner to Perpignan will weaken the champions much. I feel that they may find things a little more difficult this year, as so much of their momentum seems to depend on that old Carter-Deans combo. Stephen Brett will be first-choice flyhalf, but keep an eye out for the highly-rated young Colin Slade as his understudy. There are very few outsiders coming into the settled squad – the acquisition of ‘Canes flanker Thomas Waldrom is a noteworthy one.
The Hurricanes look to have a very talented squad and, unlike the other two big teams, have a settled coaching team as well. Will Colin Cooper be able to turn his perennial also-ran team into one that can mount a serious challenge for higher honours in 2009? Only time will tell. They will benefit from the good form showed by the Wellington Lions and the Hawkes Bay Magpies in domestic rugby this year.
The Blues are the usual mix of big-names and no-names. Expect them to start like a house on fire, as always, before fading alarmingly as the pace of the season starts to take its toll. The Chiefs and Highlanders are the usual ragtag bunch, with the former having the least settled-looking team. There are twelve newcomers in the Chiefs squad and coach Ian Foster appears to be on a hiding to nothing. The men from the South look strong upfront, but haven’t added any real backline talent to last year’s squad and they look a good bet to take the New Zealand wooden spoon again in 2009.
The 28-man Super 14 squads are as follows (Courtesy RugbyHeaven):
* Indicates player named in Super 14 squad for the first time. (D) Indicates draft player.
BLUES: Tony Woodcock (North Harbour) , John Afoa (Auckland), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland)*, Tevita Mailau (Auckland)* , Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Tom McCartney (Auckland), Ali Williams (Auckland), Anthony Boric (North Harbour), Jay Williams (Auckland)*, Kurtis Haiu (Auckland), Justin Collins (Northland), Josh Blackie (Auckland), Onosai Auva’a (Auckland), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Chris Lowery (Auckland)*, Taniela Moa (Auckland), Chris Smylie (North Harbour), Tasesa Lavea (Auckland), Jimmy Gopperth (North Harbour), Michael Hobbs (Wellington) (D)*, Benson Stanley (Auckland), Jamie Helleur (Auckland), Anthony Tuitavake (North Harbour), Joe Rokocoko (Auckland), Rudi Wulf (North Harbour), Rene Ranger (Northland)*, Paul Williams (Auckland), Isaia Toeava (Auckland).
CHIEFS: Arizona Taumalolo (Waikato)*, Ben May (Waikato), James McGougan (Bay of Plenty)*, Joe Savage (Bay of Plenty)*,Hika Elliot (Hawke’s Bay) (D), Aled de Malmanche (Waikato), Kevin O’Neill (Waikato),Toby Lynn (Waikato), Craig Clarke (Taranaki) (D), Mark Burman (Waikato)*, Liam Messam (Waikato), Tanerau Latimer (Bay of Plenty), Serge Lilo (Wellington) (D)*, Sione Lauaki (Waikato), Colin Bourke (Bay of Plenty), Brendon Leonard (Waikato), Toby Morland (D) (Otago), Stephen Donald (Waikato), Michael Delany (Bay of Plenty), Callum Bruce (Waikato), Jackson Willison (Waikato)*, Richard Kahui (Waikato), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Lelia Masaga (Counties Manukau), Sosene Anesi (Waikato), James Wilson (Southland) (D), Malili Muliaina (Waikato), Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato).
HURRICANES: John Schwalger (Wellington), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Jacob Ellison (Wellington), Tim Fairbrother (Wellington), Andrew Hore (Taranaki) , Dane Coles (Wellington)*, Jason Eaton (Taranaki), Jeremy Thrush (Wellington), Bryn Evans (Hawke’s Bay), Api Naikatini (Wellington)*, Faifili Levave (Wellington), Scott Waldrom (Taranaki), Karl Lowe (Hawke’s Bay)*, Victor Vito (Wellington)*, Rodney So’oialo (Wellington), Josh Bradnock (Manawatu)*, Alby Mathewson (Wellington), Piri Weepu (Wellington), Willie Ripia (Taranaki), Dan Kirkpatrick (Wellington)*, Ma’a Nonu (Wellington), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Jason Kawau (Southland) (D), Tamati Ellison (Wellington), Hosea Gear (Wellington), David Smith (Wellington), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Cory Jane (Wellington).
CRUSADERS: Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury), Ben Franks (Tasman), Owen Franks (Canterbury)*, Bronson Murray (Canterbury), Corey Flynn (Canterbury), Jason Macdonald (Otago) (D), Brad Thorn (Tasman), Ross Filipo (Canterbury), Isaac Ross (Canterbury), Michael Paterson (Canterbury), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Richie McCaw (Canterbury), George Whitelock (Canterbury), Thomas Waldrom (Canterbury), Nasi Manu (Canterbury), Jonathan Poff (Tasman), Andy Ellis (Canterbury), Kahn Fotuali’I (Tasman), Colin Slade (Canterbury)*, Stephen Brett (Canterbury), Tim Bateman (Canterbury), Ryan Crotty (Canterbury)*, Casey Laulala (Canterbury), Adam Whitelock (Canterbury)*, Kade Poki (Tasman), Sean Maitland (Canterbury), Jared Payne (Canterbury)*, Leon Macdonald (Canterbury).
HIGHLANDERS: Jamie Mackintosh (Southland), Clint Newland (Otago), Chris King (Southland), Anthony Perenise (Wellington) (D)*, David Hall (Southland), Jason Rutledge (Southland), Hayden Triggs (Otago), Tom Donnelly (Otago), Josh Bekhuis (Southland)*, Ross Kennedy (Otago), Adam Thomson (Otago), Tim Boys (Southland), Alando Soakai (Otago), Stephen Setephano (Otago), George Naoupu (Hawke’s Bay) (D)*, Jimmy Cowan (Southland), Sean Romans (Otago) *, Daniel Bowden (Otago), Matt Berquist (Hawke’s Bay) (D), Jason Shoemark (Hawke’s Bay) (D), Jayden Hayward (Otago)*, Johnny Leota (Otago), Kendrick Lynn (Southland)*, Brett Mather (Otago), Lucky Mulipola (Otago), Fetu’u Vainikolo (Otago), Ben Smith (Otago)*, Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay) (D)*.Tweet