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New Zealand Conference Preview

Before listening to our New Zealand Super Rugby conference podcast do your homework with our conference blog! A new season means there has been another plethora of squad changes, keep up with all the info right here!

Podcast links will be released below after it is released.

Youtube: NZ Preview; Pacifika Preview:


Full squad:

Props: Alex Hodgman, Jordan Lay, Ofa Tuungafasi, Marcel Renata, Nepo Laulala, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Hookers: Kurt Eklund, Soane Vikena, Ricky Riccitelli
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
Flyhalves: Beauden Barrett, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta
Centres: 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.

New Faces:
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (NZ Warriors), Beauden Barrett (Tokyo Sungoliath), Jordan Lay (Auckland), Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes), Luke Romano (Crusaders), James Tucker (Brumbies), Taufa Fukani (Auckland), Corey Evans (Auckland), Tamati Tua (Northland), Cameron Suafoa (North Harbour), Adrian Choat (from short-term contract), Anton Segner (Tasman)

Blake Gibson (Hurricanes), Emoni Narawa (Chiefs), Otere Black (Shining Arcs), TJ Faiane (Hino Red Dolphins), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti (Kobe Steelers), Patrick Tuipolotu (Toyota Verblitz), Jacob Pierce (Toshiba Tokyo), Ray Nuia (Moana Masifika), Luteru Tolai (Moana Pasifika), Jonathan Ruru (Provence – France), Dillon Hunt (retired)

Best 15:
Alex Hodgman, Kurt Eklund, Nepo Laulala, Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali’i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Zarn Sullivan

Stocks are rising:
Beauden Barrett – in 2019 he topped the flyhalfs on averages (49.2 pts) over Richie Mo’unga (43.6 pts) which put him the 5th highest scorer overall. This dropped off significantly in 2020 (22.7 pts). We think he will land somewhere in the middle this season, but that would still make him around the top 2-3 flyhalves in the game.
Zarn Sullivan – It’s not often that the hype we feel is matched by the coaches, but the young fullback played over 60 minutes in all seven of his game last year. We think this could be the reason he reaches Jordie Barrett levels of point scoring!

Stocks are falling:
Ofa Tuungafasi – Once a top prop in Super Rugby, he has been well and truly taken over by Nepo Laulala. Struggling for consistent game time should make this man’s average far lower in 2022.

Stephen Perofeta – The excitement machine was sent back to club footy last year to get used to playing fullback. He owned the 15 jersey at Taranaki and has returned to his goal kicking form as well. If he can oust Sullivan then it could be a return to his glory days.
Sam Darry – You probably recognise the name from last years hot shit podcast. With Tuipulotu moving on there is a free locking spot, and we aren’t convinced he can’t snatch it from ex-Waratah Tucker, or the ageing Romano.


Full squad:

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
Flyhalves: Bryn Gatland, Kaleb Trask, Josh Ioane
Centres: 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

New Faces:
Josh Ioane (Highlanders), Brodie Retallick (Kobe Steelers), Emoni Narawa (Blues), Samipeni Finau (from short-term contract), Cortez Ratima (Waikato), Gideon Wrampling (from short-term contract)

Damian McKenzie (Tokyo Sungoliath), Lachlan Boshier (Wild Knights), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Crusaders), Kini Naholo (Crusaders), Bailyn Sullivan (Hurricanes), Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Moana Pasifika), Viliame Taulani (Harlequins), Nathan Harris (Retired), Sean Wainui (Tragically passed away)

Best 15:
Atu Moli, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Angus Ta’avao, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jonah Lowe, Chase Tiatia

Stocks are rising:
Josh Ioane – The All Blacks playmaker has the ability to take over a game single-handedly and we think he could be given the chance to do just that in 2022. We suspect he will be used as a like for like replacement with Damian McKenzie.
Samisoni Taukei’aho – There are calls for this man to become an international regular after his huge 2021. Not only is he in fine form, but Nathan Harris’ retirement means he can finally get the chance to start every week this year.
Brodie Retallick – Returning from Japan, he is arguably the best fantasy lock of all times, it’s hard to see him replicating exactly what he did in his younger days. Nevertheless we expect him to be taken right up in the pointy end of the initial drafts.

Stocks are falling:
Naitoa Ah Kuoi – With Retallick back there has to be a man that loses out. We suspect Ah Kuoi will draw the short straw just he was starting to establish himself last year.
Alex Nankivell – Quinn Tupaea was the breakout NZ centre of 2021. This can only mean diminshing game time for the talented midfielder.

Emoni Narawa – We had big wraps on this man when he showed up at the Blues. Sadly it didn’t work out for him there, but he was being spoken about in the same conversations as Jona Nareki. Fingers crossed we can get that form out of him!
Xavier Roe – The extremely talented youngers only had Brad Weber between him and the 9 jersey now that Tahuriorangi has moved to the Crusaders. His sharp running game could set him up for some solid points if he is given the opportunity.


Full squad:
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Brodie McAlister, Shilo Klein
Props: Joe Moody, Oli Jager, Fletcher Newell, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Finlay Brewis
Locks: Scott Barrett, Quentin 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
Flyhalves: Richie Mo’unga, Simon Hickey, Fergus Burke
Centres: 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

New Faces:
Pablo Matera (Stade Français), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs), Kini Naholo (Chiefs), Simon Hickey (Hurricanes), Dominic Gardiner (Canterbury), Finlay Brewis (Canterbury), Zach Gallagher (Canterbury), Shilo Klein (Canterbury), Corey Kellow (Canterbury)

Isileli Tuungafasi (Moana Pasifika), Andrew Makalio (Highlanders), Michael Alaalatoa (Leinster), Whetukamokamo Douglas (Green Rockets), Tom Sanders (Tokyo Sungoliath), Ereatara Enari (Moana Pasifika), Brett Cameron (Kamaishi Seawaves), Manasa Mataele (Western Force), Luke Romano (Blues), Josh McKay (Glasgow Warriors), Rene Ranger (Northland), Nathan Vella (Bay of Plenty), Quentin MacDonald (Tasman), Liam Allen (Canterbury), Brendon O’Connor (Hawke’s Bay)

Best 15:
Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Oli Jager, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Cullen Grace, Mitch Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Leicester Fainga’anuku, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan

Stocks are rising:
Pablo Matera – The only way Matera could have been more exciting to watch in the past was if he played for a NZ team. The Crusaders seem like the ideal place to put his hand up as a premier flanker in the world.
Oli Jager – There isn’t a lot of emerging opportunity at the Crusaders, but Jager is one to surely rise up the ranks in 2022. Stuck behind Mikey Alaalatoa in years gone by, this year the jersey is all his.

Stocks are falling:
Tom Christie – Looks to be the unlucky one to miss out with so much backrow talent this year. If he gets an opportunity he’ll be a solid performer. How few and far between those opportunities are is the big question.
Braydon Ennor – David Havilli has established himself at 12, Jack Goodhue is due back midseason, and Fainga’anuku’s form demands he be on the field. Ennor should still get plenty of time on the field, but he won’t have it all his own way. The other big question is if he can hit full flight after not quite finding form coming back from injury in 2021.
Bryn Hall – Last year we saw Drummond enjoy a big uptick in the starting 9 jersey. This year Tahuriorangi is sure to push for a spot as well. We might just have seen Hall’s last influential season at the Crusaders.

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – At one point he was considered the heir apparent to Aaron Smith, he fell out of favour at the Chiefs. Where better to fulfil your potential than the champion Crusaders?
Chay Fihaki – We saw glimpses of what this young talent could do last year, with so much competition at the Crusaders we might only see more of the same this year, but crazier things have happened than a couple of injuries giving him an opportunity!


Full squad:
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, Pari Pari Parkinson
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
Flyhalves: Marty Banks, Mitchell Hunt
Centres: 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, Jona Nareki

New Faces:
Gareth Evans (Hurricanes), Marty Banks (Red Hurricanes), Andrew Makalio (Crusaders), Moses Dawai (Waikato), Rhys Marshall (Waikato), Josh Timu (from short term contract), Sean Withy (Otago), Saula Ma’u (Otago), Max Hicks (Tasman), Sam Caird (Waratahs)

Josh Ioane (Chiefs), Ash Dixon (Green Rockets), Siate Tokolahi (Pau), Kazuki Himeno (Toyota Verblitz), Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Castres), Michael Collins (Ospreys), Tom O’Malley (Zebra Parma), Jack Regan (Ospreys), Liam Squire (Retired)

Best 15:
Ethan de Groot, Liam Coltman, Josh Hohneck, Bryn Evans, Josh Dickson, Shannon Frizell, Billy Harmon, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Aaron Smith, Mitchell Hunt, Sam Gilbert, Scott Gregory, Ngatungane Punivai, Connor Garden-Bachop, Solomon Alaimalo

Stocks are rising:
Shannon Frizell – The 6th ranked loosie in 2020 with the 2nd highest points per minute. The facts are simple, get the man on the park and he is going to kill it.
Solomon Alaimalo – How good was it to see Alaimalo line up for Southland week in, week out in the Bunnings NPC having overcome his mental health issues? It’s been a while since we have seen this excitement machine in full flight but it’s impossible to forget his form in 2018 with the 3rd highest average for an outside back at 51 points per game.

Stocks are falling:
Hugh Renton – Had a breakout 2021, but should get a lot less game time with the return of Mikaele-Tu’u who suffered a season-ending stress fracture last year.
Jona Nareki – Gone for the entire year through injury, we just couldn’t not acknowledge what the competition will be missing without Nareki in 2022.

Andrew Makalio – It wouldn’t be a big surprise for the bowling ball to nail down the top hooking spot for his new franchise. His physical nature and solid set-piece is sure to merge well with the Highlanders game plan.
Maanaki Selby-Rickit – It feels like we have been waiting a couple of seasons for Maanaki to come of age in Super Rugby. Considering his sheer athleticism he could be one to watch this year.


Full squad:
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, James O’Reilly
Props: Tevita Mafileo, Alex Fidow, Xavier Numia, Tyrel Lomax, Pasilio Tosi, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Owen Franks
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
Flyhalves: Aidan Morgan, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ruben Love
Centres: Teihorangi Walden, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside backs: Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Pepesana Patafilo, Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen, Josh Moorby

New Faces:
Owen Franks (Northampton Saints), Dom Bird (Racing 92), Blake Gibson (Blues), Teihorangi Walden (Highlanders), Bailyn Sullivan (Chiefs), Pasilio Tosi (Bay of Plenty), Justin Sangster (Bay of Plenty), Tyler Laubscher (Manawatu), Aidan Morgan (Wellington), Cam Roigard (from short term contract), Josh Moorby (Highlanders), Caleb Delany (Wellington), TK Howden (Manawatu)

Ngani Laumape (Stade Français), Vince Aso (Wild Knights), Vaea Fifita (Wasps), Ricky Riccitelii (Blues), Gareth Evans (Highlanders), Simon Hickey (Crusaders), Lolagi Visinia (Moana Pasifika), Jonathan Taumateine (Moana Pasifika), Orbyn Leger (Koto Blue Sharks), Danny Toala (Moana Pasifika), Luke Campbell (Narbonne), Liam Mitchell (Zebra Parma), Kane Leaupepe (Retired), Fraser Armstrong (Retired)

Best 15:
Xavier Numia, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Scott Scrafton, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Ruben Love, Salesi Rayasi, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett

Stocks are rising:
Peter Umaga-Jensen – PUJ seems like the logical man to take over Laumape’s 12 role for the Hurricanes. In 2020 we saw him at his best as the 7th ranked centre, so he isn’t one to miss!
Asafo Aumua – Each year we expect Aumua to get more minutes over Coles. Despite the competition he was still the 3rd ranked Hooker on averages last season. If he plays big minutes he will be unstoppable.
Devan Flanders – If there is one young gun that we are licking our lips to see more its Flanders. If he can usurp Reed Prinsep then the sky is the limit for this outstanding young flanker.

Stocks are falling:
Jamie Booth – Must be the unluckiest half back in NZ. Last year he looked set for a big year but succumb to a season-ending injury. Now TJ is back he will surely only see a small fraction of his desired game time.

Ruben Love – Surely the favourite to steer the ship for the Hurricanes in 2022, the man can pick a hole and explode through it, or send his teammates through a gap with a late pass. If he can snatch a couple of goal kicks off Jordie then he will go big!
Bailyn Sullivan – A potential option at outside centre or wing, he is an extreme talent that would thrive if given a sniff.

Moana Pasifika

Full Squad
Hookers: Ray Niuia, Sam Moli, Luteru Tolai
Props: Sekope Kepu, Isileli Tuungafasi, Joe Apikotoa, Tau Koloamatangi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris Apoua
Locks: Don Lolo, Mike McKee, Veikoso Poloniati, 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
Flyhalves: Christian Lealifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili
Centres: Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Henry Taefu, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata
Outside Backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Tima Fainga’anuku, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Anzelo Tuitavuki

Best 15:
Isi Tu’ungafasi, Ray Niuia, Sekope Kepu, Mike McKee, Samuel Slade, Sione Tuipulotu, Jack Lam, Henry Stowers, Ere Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Solomone Kata, Henry Taefu, Levi Aumua, Tima Fainga’anuku, Lolagi Visinia

Stocks are rising:
Levi Aumua – How this man isn’t already tearing up Super Rugby baffles me, he has had a few chances but never quite held his spot. He pushed Leicester Fainga’anuku to the wing for Tasman this year for goodness sake!
Solomone Kata – The former Brumbies and NZ Warriors flyer has found a new home. He showed the level of talent he possessed in Australia, but this is his chance to own a jersey.

Stocks are falling:
None for this one, our big question is who will take a hold of the locks for this side. I’d be hesitant to pick one up until that is more clear.

Timoci Tavatavanawai – Anyone that can hold down a spot on the wing for the Tasman Mako in their Debute season is worth a bit of fanfair. This man has real talent!
Lincoln McClutchie – Guided the Magpies to a win in the premiership in 2020, then they topped the table in 2021 before losing in the finals. They also hold the Ranfurly Shield after 9 straight defences. The man knows how to guide a team, will he get a chance to play with Magpies teammate Ere Enari?

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Written by Harrison Dale