Hertford Highlander

Hurricane Pen Portraits

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, RWC 2011, Sharks, Super Rugby on 23 Apr 2011 at 09:59
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

Hurricanes.co.nz gives us a real insight into todays opposition at the ‘Shark Tank’.

1. John Schwalger

Age 27 , Height 187cm, Weight 122 kg, Super Caps 61, Super Points 10 , Test Caps 2 , Test Points 5

Wellington prop John Schwalger surpassed 50 Super 14 appearances for the Hurricanes in 2010, involved in every match and starting 11 times to end the campaign on 61 caps.

He starts his sixth straight season for the Hurricanes in 2011.

Schwalger’s versatility and total commitment at the Hurricanes coalface was rewarded in May 2007 when he was selected in the All Blacks, scoring a try on debut against Canada.

He made the All Blacks again in 2008, appearing in the first Test of the year at home in Wellington against Ireland.

Schwalger’s first baby daughter Phoenix was born on the eve of the Super 14 final in 2006, and his cousin Mahonri is also a former international rugby player for Samoa, and is currently a member of the Highlanders.

2. Andrew Hore (c)

Age 32 , Height 183cm, Weight 110 kg, Super Caps 97, Super Points 90, Test Caps 50 , Test Points 25

2008 proved a momentous year for hooker Andrew Hore, winning both the 2008 Rebel Sport Super 14 Player of the Year and the Kelvin R. Tremain Memorial Player of the Year awards at the Steinlager New Zealand rugby awards in December. This double accolade more than offset Hore’s disappointment at coming home early from the All Blacks end of year tour after injuring himself in the historic Test against Australia in Hong Kong.

Hore loves scoring tries. His 18 tries for the Hurricanes are easily the most scored by a Hurricanes

He became Hurricanes captain in 2010, replacing Rodney So’oialo, leading from the front and playing every game of the season and ending 2010 with 91 Hurricanes caps and 97 overall.

He sustained a shoulder injury during the last game of the season against the Waratahs in Sydney, an untimely blow that ruled him out of the All Blacks for the winter Tests and provincial ITM Cup that followed, returning to the All Blacks for their 2010 end of year tour.

A central Otago farmer of rugged disposition, Hore joined Taranaki in 2001, transferring north from Otago where he had struggled for a break alongside Anton Oliver and Tom Willis and a third hooker, Eugene Morgan, who subsequently moved to Wellington.

Other representative teams that Hore made included: New Zealand U16 in 1994, New Zealand Secondary Schools in 1995,1996, New Zealand U21 in 1999, New Zealand Barbarians in 2002,2003 and the Junior All Blacks in 2005.

Hore’s brother Charlie played for the Highlanders and Otago in 2007 as a first five-eighth, and has also played for Canterbury and Borders in Scotland.

Hore reached the milestone of 200 first-class appearances whilst playing for the Hurricanes in the 2009 Super 14 semi-final against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

3. Neemia Tialata

Age 29 , Height 187cm, Weight 127 kg, Super Caps 86, Super Points 15, Test Caps 43, Test Points 10

The Hurricanes’ most capped prop, Neemia Tialata didn’t miss a game for the Hurricanes from the start of his second season in 2005 to the end of 2007, and has so far racking up an impressive 86 total appearances in seven seasons for Super Rugby.

He started at tighthead prop in all 13 matches in 2010, one of three players, alongside hooker and skipper Andrew Hore and second five-eighth Ma’a Nonu to run on in every game. He duly received an All Blacks call-up for the winter Tests that followed and made the All Blacks end of year tour squad as an injury replacement.

Apart from his obvious physical attributes, where he weighs in at more than 125 kg, Tialata’s other great strength is his ability to play both sides of the scrum to a high standard, making him one the most valuable members of any squad.

He featured in the June 2010 internationals against Ireland and Wales but missed out on the Tri Nations squad.

Away from rugby, Tialata lives with his extended family in Wainuiomata near Wellington and is a keen guitar player and has a flair for artistry.

4. Jeremy Thrush

Age 26 , Height 198cm, Weight 115 kg, Super Caps 37, Super Points 25

A shoulder injury kept workaholic lock and 2004 IRB World U19 Player of the Year Jeremy Thrush on the sidelines for much of the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup and he returned to the Hurricanes in 2010 hungry for action.

He missed the first three games of the season, but started at lock in six of the last 10 games of the season for the Hurricanes and showed real glimpses of his best form towards the end of the campaign.

The wide-ranging Thrush previously made a real impact for the Vodafone Wellington Lions in the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup. The former IRB World U21 Player of the Year was a mainstay of the Lions pack playing all 13 matches of that season.

An aggressive ball winner in the air and committed in the tight, Thrush is also a highly mobile and skilful lock with a nose for the tryline (as he showed last week against Cheetahs) and a rare ability to always be in the right place at the right time.

Thrush was earmarked for a bright future from a young age, progressing from the New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2003 to New Zealand U19 in 2004 on to two years in the New Zealand Colts in 2005 and 2006. An early career setback was a shoulder injury that kept him out of all rugby for the first half of 2005. He won the World U19 Player of the Year at the end of 2004 after earlier helping New Zealand to beat France in the U19 final in South Africa.

Now aged 26, he has five seasons with the Lions under his belt and played in every game for Wellington in the ITM Cup in 2010, ending the season with 41 provincial caps.

He had the distinction of scoring the first try for the Wellington Lions in their memorable Ranfurly Shield victory over Auckland in 2008. He was selected for the Junior All Blacks in June 2009.

Thrush’s father played on the wing for Bush prior to their amalgamation with Wairarapa Bush.

5. James Broadhurst

Age 23 , Height 201cm, Weight 117 kg, Super Caps 2, Super Points 5

Hard-working lock and specialist set piece exponent James Broadhurst played his first Rebel Sport Super 14 season in 2010 after previously being a member of the Crusaders Wider Training Group.
He made two appearances in his rookie season, including his starting debut in a big early season win over the Western Force in Wellington.

He spent four years in Canterbury, but returned to the Hurricanes region last year where he attended secondary school in Gisborne and represented Poverty Bay Secondary Schools. He grew up in Northland and as represented New Zealand at U19 and U21 levels.
He was a key cog in Canterbury’s back-to-back Air New Zealand Cup title win in 2009, but in 2010 also moved north for his ITM Cup rugby, to Taranaki.

6. Jack Lam

Age 23 , Height 188cm, Weight 103 kg, Super Caps Debut Season

Jack Lam joins the Hurricanes the first time in 2011 following stints in the recent seasons with the Tasman Makos (2008) and Waikato (2009 and 2010) in the ITM Cup.

After getting seven starts for Tasman in 2008, Lam returned to the Waikato, where he was born, to be part of the 2009 Chiefs Wider Training Squad and the Mooloo later in the year.

Lam shifted south to Wellington at an early age and then across to Canberra where he made the Australian Secondary Schools’ side two years running in 2004 and 2005.

His first year in the Australian Schools team was as a centre, before he was converted into a loose forward the following year and made the team again as a flanker.

Lam is a cousin of former All Black and Samoan internatonal and Blues coach Pat Lam

7. Serge Lilo

Age 26 , Height 183cm, Weight 97 kg, Super Caps 35, Super Points 20

Specialist openside flanker Serge Lilo was signed by the Blues in 2010, after playing for the Chiefs in 2009, after previously coming from an injury-disrupted 2008 year. His 2010 ITM Cup season also ended before it had began due to injury, but he was picked for the Hurricanes in 2011.

An excellent defensive flanker and a specialist turnover merchant, Serge Lilo’s contribution to any side is immense. These attributes were quickly utilised by the Hurricanes when he was first selected in the 2006 squad as a replacement for Ben Herring who was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Opportunities were limited for him in his first year as part of the All Black loose forward contingent of Jerry Collins, Rodney So’oialo and also Chris Masoe, the latter starting every game at openside, his sole appearance as a substitute against the Cheetahs. But he added another 10 caps including five starts in 2007 with the trio on All Blacks reconditioning duty, scoring two tries along the way.
Out of the Northern United club stable in Wellington, Lilo made his Vodafone Wellington Lions debut in 2005 against Auckland.

Previously he made both the New Zealand U19s in 2004 – winning the U19 Cup in South Africa – and the New Zealand U21s in 2005.

8. Victor Vito

Age 24, Height 192cm, Weight 109 kg, Super Caps 19, Super Points 15, Test Caps 6

Victor Vito had a second impressive season for the Hurricanes in 2010 and received every young rugby player’s ultimate phone call in late May when he was selected for the All Blacks for the first time for the three-Test Steinlager series against Ireland and Wales. He played two of these Tests, making his debut in the 66-28 win over Ireland in New Plymouth.

He played four of the Tri-Nations Tests that followed, although he missed out on the end of year tour to Europe.

With a reputation as a multi-skilled Sevens specialist, Victor Vito has now developed into a dynamic loose forward, comfortable at either blindside flank or No. 8, and won Wellington Rugby’s 2009 Player of the Year award. Powerful and with speed to burn, Vito was also a standout player in the Hurricanes in 2010.

Vito was marked early as a future rugby star. A product of Scots College in Wellington, he was picked for the Hurricanes Schools team of 2004. This team won the Regional tournament and his strong performances won him selection for the New Zealand Secondary Schools side. Vito also impressed at this higher level, including being awarded the Golden Boot; the award selected by the opposition coach in the schoolboys’ test against Australia. He joined an exclusive club when he won this award, Jerry Collins being the only other Wellington player in recent times.

On leaving school Vito joined the Wellington Rugby Academy and started a Law degree at Victoria University. He joined the Marist St Pats club in 2005 and captained the 2005 Wellington U19 team which won the Hurricanes U20 competition. The 2006 season began with Vito being selected, along with seven other Wellington players, in the New Zealand U19 team to compete in the IRB U19 World Cup in Dubai, which he also captained – also earning nomination for the 2006 IRB U19 Player of the Year.

9. Tyson Keats

Age 29 , Height 173cm, Weight 84 kg, Super Caps 32, Super Points 15

Halfback Tyson Keats brought experience and a winning record in provincial rugby with him to the Hurricanes in 2010, having won back-to-back Air New Zealand Cup titles with Canterbury in 2008 and 2009.

This proved a real asset for the Hurricanes and he made 10 appearances in his rookie year, including five starting roles ahead of Piri Weepu against the Bulls, Sharks, Brumbies, Highlanders and Chiefs. The changed rule interpretations that called for a faster game around the rucks suited his style of play and he also scored three tries.

He had previously made three appearances for the Crusaders in 2009, making his Rebel Sport Super 14 debut off the bench against the Hurricanes.

28-year old Keats made his provincial debut for Nelson Bays – scoring a hat-trick of tries in an Air New Zealand NPC second division semi-final against Counties Manukau – before transferring to Canterbury where he played 41 times in his home province’s red and black uniform and also scored 11 tries.

Keats joined Taranaki on a two-year deal following the 2010 Super 14 season.

10. Daniel Kirkpatrick

Age 22 , Height 181cm, Weight 90 kg, Super Caps 11, Super Points 17
2008 was a memorable year for specialist first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick, winning the IRB U20 World Cup in June and being named Player of the Tournament, winning the Ranfurly Shield with the Vodafone Wellington Lions in September and then being selected for the Hurricanes and also welcoming the birth of his first child in October. For Kirkpatrick, these are a continuation of a long list of achievements so far, having also won the U19 World Cup and debuted for the Lions as an 18-year old in 2007.

Kirkpatrick kicked a conversion with the first touch of the ball in Air New Zealand Cup rugby and finished with four from four kicks as the Lions came from behind to beat Counties Manukau 33-18.

He was an integral part of the team that won the 2007 IRB U19 World Championship in Belfast in April with a resounding 31-7 defeat of South Africa in the final.

He moved to Wellington from the Hawke’s Bay at the start of 2007 to study Commerce and Administration at Victoria University and played his first game for his club side Petone soon after returning from Northern Ireland, where his sound option taking and excellent tactical kicking game impressed all, including grassroots teammate Tana Umaga in his last season.

In 2008 Kirkpatrick was named in the New Zealand U20 team that contested the IRB U20 World Cup in Wales.

A shoulder injury in the second round, curtailed his 2008 ANZC with the Lions, but he returned six weeks later and won selection in the starting XV against Auckland in the Ranfurly Shield challenge.

Kirkpatrick’s father John is a world champion shearer, in 2002 becoming the first shearer since 1989 to beat the legendary David Fagan in the Golden Shears final.

Kirkpatrick played four times for the Hurricanes in 2009, twice off the bench after starting the first two games against the Waratahs and the Highlanders.

He joined the Blues for the 2010 Super 14 and the Hawke’s Bay Magpies for the 2010 ITM Cup, before being re-selected in the Hurricanes squad for the 2011 Super 15.

11. Hosea Gear

Age 27, Height 188cm, Weight 102 kg, Super Caps 58, Super Points 100, Test Caps 6, Test Points 25

Hosea Gear completed his seventh season with the Hurricanes in 2010.

Gear was in scintillating form for the Vodafone Wellington Lions in the 2008 Air New Zealand Cup, scoring 14 tries in 12 appearances, including two hat-tricks, and breaking the great Bernie Fraser’s season try-scoring record set in 1981. This form was too hot to be ignored and he was duly selected for the All Blacks for their 2008 end of season tour, making his Test debut against Australia in Hong Kong.

In 2003 Gear moved to North Harbour and made the New Zealand U19s and New Zealand Sevens, playing in two tournaments in Wales and England. He debuted for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs in 2004 earning seven caps, and also spent the first of two seasons in the New Zealand U21 team, as well as the first of three stints to date in the New Zealand Maori side.

The congestion of midfielders meant that Ma’a Nonu played much of the 2005 season on the left wing, limiting Gear’s game time. However he still dotted down three times in nine appearances.

He was hindered by hamstring injuries in 2006, managing just five games at the start of the season, but returned for a full season in 2007, starting in 11of 13 matches and scoring three tries. In May 2007, Gear earned another well-deserved call-up to the Maori side to contest the Churchill Cup in England, followed by a full season with the Lions in the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup.

Gear played a limited role in the 2009 Super 14 after suffering a knee injury while playing the Lions in South Africa, forcing him to return home from their overseas tour and ultimately forcing him out of the remainder of the Super 14 season despite regaining fitness at the end. He was named in the Junior All Blacks side for the Pacific Nations Cup in June and early July.

He sustained another knee injury in the 2010 Super 14 season opener against the Blues in Albany, in a game in which he scored the Hurricanes’ match winning try with an intercept. This ruled him out for six weeks, but was fire on his return and scored his first Super Rugby hat trick in the Hurricanes’ penultimate round win against the Reds.

Gear was re-selected in the New Zealand Maori side in May 2010 for their upcoming centenary series of matches and played a starring role in this series. He scored five tries in three games, including a hat trick against England at Napier and the match winning try against the New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei, leading to the drums beating loudly by many in the public and media for a recall to the All Blacks.

He made the All Blacks and went on the 2010 end of year tour, where he played in the Test wins against England and Scotland.
In December 2010 he won the Supreme Maori Sports Person of the Year award.

12. Ma’a Nonu

Age 28, Height 182cm, Weight 108 kg, Super Caps 99, Super Points 200, Test Caps 56, Test Points 85

Ma’a Nonu ended the 2010 season on 98 caps for the Hurricanes and in red hot form, having helped in no small part in the team’s turnaround throughout the second half of the Super 14 season when they won four matches in a row and almost forced their way into the semi-finals for the third successive year.

His sixth try of the season against the Chiefs in round 12 brought up his 40th career try and 200th career point, one of seven Hurricanes to surpass that milestone. Only Christian Cullen (56 tries in 85 games) and Tana Umaga (47 in 122 games) have scored more tries for the franchise.

However, with the All Blacks second five-eighth position seemingly his for the winter Tests that followed, he was forced on to the sideline for a spell with a knee injury. But he was re-selected for the Tri-Nations and at the highest level resumed his early season domination.

Nonu’s 2010 season followed arguably his best season in Hurricanes colours in 2009, seemingly breaking the line at will and ending 2009 as the Super 14’s leading try scorer with nine tries.

After a relatively quiet start to 2009, Nonu exploded on to the competition stage with several match winning efforts, constantly breaking the line on attack and forming a solid midfield partnership with centre Conrad Smith, this pair reaching the milestone of 20 matches together in the Hurricanes midfield in the 13th round match against the Chiefs. He appeared in every game in 2009 and ended the season as the franchise’s joint third most capped player with 85 caps under his belt since his debut in 2003. He has now scored 34 tries for the franchise, comfortably third most behind Christian Cullen (56 tries) and his mentor Tana Umaga (47).

This followed on from an outstanding 2008 when he proved a constant threat to all opposition he with seven Super 14 tries en route to earning an All Black recall after being left out of the World Cup squad in 2007. He then ended the year as comfortably the All Black’s first choice second five-eighth and was picked in the 12 jersey for the start of the 2009 international season in June.
Famous for his bulldozing exploits on the field, Nonu has also suffered his share of setbacks since he literally burst onto the New Zealand rugby scene in 2002 and 2003.

Still aged 25 at the end of the 2008 Super 14 season, Nonu had five seasons and over 70 caps for the Hurricanes under his belt, as well as 18 test caps for the All Blacks and 54 caps for the Wellington Lions. He ended 2009 as undoubtedly the All Blacks’ first choice second five-eighth, extending his Test tally to 46 appearances.

Nonu’s rise to fame was rapid. He was elevated to the Hurricanes in 2003 after one NPC season for the Vodafone Wellington Lions in 2002, when he carried his sublime club rugby form on to the first class stage. In an outstanding club season for his Oriental-Rongotai side, he and New Zealand Sevens teammate Roy Kinikinilau scored 22 tries between them.

His elevation continued unabated in 2003, setting the Super 12 alight and forming a formidable partnership in the midfield with Tana Umaga, whom comparisons with were immediately made, followed by selection for the All Blacks for his first test at home in Wellington against England.

As is often the case with X-factor players, Nonu suffered his first setback in 2004, unable to reproduce the same form for the Hurricanes, he was culled from the All Blacks and played for the New Zealand Sevens team instead. But some had work during the NPC earned him a test recall at the end of the year. In 2005 he was back to his best scoring seven tries each for the Hurricanes and Lions and often featuring on the left wing to accommodate both Umaga and Conrad Smith in the midfield. This earned him another European All Blacks tour. In 2006 Nonu was ruled out of the All Blacks during the year, but once more made the Spring trip to Europe.
In May 2007 he was selected for the Junior All Blacks, but earned a late recall as an injury recall into the All Blacks and played in the two home Tests against France.

He was in superb form for Wellington in the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup, notably as a right winger.

13. Jayden Hayward

Age 23, Height 185cm, Weight 91 kg

14. Alapati Leiua

Age 22, Height 185cm, Weight 91 kg, Super Caps 3, Super Points 0

Alapati Leiua joins the Hurricanes in 2011 for his first full season in the squad, backing up an active ITM Cup season for the Vodafone Wellington Lions that saw him play 13 games as a centre and a winger.

The then Hurricanes Wider Training Squad member Leiua was called into the Hurricanes in the early rounds of the 2010 Rebel Sport Super 14, answering an injury crisis that saw Tamati Ellison and Conrad Smith both unable to travel with the team on their South African trip.

Leiua then made his full debut at centre against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, and played off the bench the next week against the Stormers and on the wing the following week against the Bulls. The Hurricanes lost these three matches, making it a tough introduction to Super 14 rugby for the hugely talented Leiua.

He had a phenomenal year in 2009, sweeping all before him in Wellington club rugby and becoming a first choice starter for the Wellington Lions on the wing and at centre. It was in the centre position where he excelled in club rugby for Northern United, scoring a remarkable 21 tries in 16 games and lighting up the rugby fields of Wellington. He made his Wellington Lions debut in the first Ranfurly Shield defence of the year against Wairarapa Bush and his Air New Zealand Cup debut off the bench in round four against Auckland – going on to start in the last 10 matches of the year and scoring 5 tries for the Lions in 13 appearances.

15. Cory Jane

Age 27 , Height 183cm, Weight 85 kg, Super Caps 47, Super Points 60, Test Caps 22 , Test Points 30

Jane made the All Blacks squad for the start of the 2009 international season in June and played on the right wing in the first Test against France.

He returned just as strong and hungry in 2010, missing just one game at the back all season, against the Bulls in round six after taking a knock the previous week. Jane was re-selected in the All Blacks’ Test squad at the end of May and added to his 12 Test caps over the winter and during the end of year tour.

He sprang to prominence at the start of 2006 for the New Zealand Sevens team, making a popular hometown debut at the Wellington leg of the IRB Sevens in February. It got even hotter for the Heretaunga hare in March when he won a gold medal with the team at the Melbourne Commonwealth games in March, scoring the first try in the final against England.

His steady rise was complete at the end of 2008 when he was selected for the All Blacks Spring tour off the back of another stunning ANZC, making his Test debut against Australia in Hong Kong.


  • Some interesting characters 😯

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.04.11 10:00:53 by Hertford Highlander Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
    Hertford Highlander
  • 🙂 entertaining read. 😎

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.04.11 10:12:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Southland is the team to watch in this year’s ITM Cup 😛

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.04.11 10:26:10 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • What is a ‘specialist set piece exponent’?

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.04.11 13:43:29 by McLovin Reply


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