Ten capped All Blacks, numerous Maori All Blacks and All Blacks Sevens players, a veteran Wallaby and a collection of the game’s most exciting emerging stars feature in the squads named by the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises for the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens today.
World Cup winners Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane (Hurricanes) and Liam Messam (Chiefs) headline the ten-strong contingent of All Blacks selected across the five franchises.
The tournament will also see the comeback from injury of crowd favourite and six-test All Black Rene Ranger (Blues). Joining Ranger in the Blues’ squad is current All Blacks test winger George Moala, former Kiwis league international Matt Duffie and All Blacks Sevens stars Ambrose Curtis and Declan O’Donnell.
All Blacks forward Steven Luatua was withdrawn from the Blues squad after failing to recover from injury in time for tournament.
As well 2015’s World Rugby breakthrough player of the year Milner-Skudder, the Hurricanes have named 53-test All Black Cory Jane, who has recently returned from a stint in Japan.
A strong looking Hurricanes side sees blockbusting prop Loni “The Tongan Bear” Uhila come in as late replacement for Jeffery 2013 All Black Toomaga-Allen. The squad also features boom lock Vaea Fifita and former New Zealand Under-20s star Jordie Barrett – both of whom toured with the All Blacks as injury cover last year – as well as former Warriors league star Ngani Laumape.
All Blacks Moala – who played against Ireland in Chicago – Crusaders centre Seta Tamanivalu and the Highlanders’ breakthrough hooker Liam Coltman have all been named in their respective squads.
The Highlanders squad, which also features highly-rated flier Tevita Li, will be captained by 2013 All Black Luke Whitelock.
The Crusaders will be boosted by the presence of star new recruit Digby Ioane – a veteran of 37 tests for the Wallabies – and All Blacks Sevens star Tim Bateman.
All Black lock Luke Romano was a late withdrawal after suffering an injury in training.
A high-powered Chiefs squad will be anchored by 47-test All Black Liam Messam, veteran All Blacks hooker Hika Elliott and capped All Black Brad Weber, with All Blacks Sevens star turned Samoa test international Tim Nanai-Williams providing the pace out wide.
The collection of Kiwi stars will be joined over 20 Wallabies test players at the February 11 and 12 tournament at Suncorp Stadium.
The tournament will also feature wildcard players Chris Latham, Stephen Larkham, Andrew Walker and Lote Tuqiri, who was named today in the Waratahs squad alongside Wallabies fullback Israel Folau.
“We’ve said all along that the Brisbane Global Tens would be the greatest collection of elite rugby players in one city outside of a world cup and today’s announcement confirms that,” Duco Australia CEO Rachael Carroll said.
“The additional nine All Blacks brings the number of international capped players to above 50 across the 14 teams.
“Nehe Milner-Skudder, Rene Ranger and Liam Messam are among the most dynamic, exciting players in the global game. In less than a fortnight now they will be squaring off against Israel Folau, Drew Mitchell, James O’Connor, Tevita Kuridrani and Alesana Tuilagi – to name but a few of the incredible players so far confirmed to run out at Suncorp Stadium.
“There has been some of conjecture and unfortunately inaccurate speculation about the strength of the teams the New Zealand clubs would field. Today’s announcement shows that these teams are in fact extremely strong. It’s hard to imagine anyone suggesting a Hurricanes team featuring Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Vaea Fifita, Jordie Barret, Loni Uhila and Matt Proctor won’t be among the contenders for the title.
“And the same can be said for the other four teams named today, too.
“We’ve worked hard with the New Zealand Super Rugby clubs, New Zealand Rugby and the players themselves to deliver the strongest possible sides while acknowledging the challenges of a packed rugby calendar – and we feel we’ve achieved exactly that.”
Comments from NZ Super Rugby Coaches
Tony Brown, Highlanders:
“We had a practice game last week and obviously with five less guys on the paddock there is a lot of running around. It’s a great opportunity to get some running rugby under our belts and I know the players and coaching staff are pretty pumped about the occasion.”
“While we don’t know a lot about what to expect tactically we do know that all the teams we play are going to bring a lot of intensity, speed and skill to the games” said Brown.
Scott Robertson, Crusaders
“It is exciting to be involved in a new tournament like this in it’s first year, and getting to play in front of a noisy crowd is also valuable preparation in the pre-season. We are looking forward to fielding a really strong squad at the Tens and showcasing what we’re capable of. We have some tough competition, so it will be a really good test of where we are at before the Super season starts,” Robertson said.
Steve Jackson, Blues
“We have had some experience with 10s and believe it offers more to us as a preparation for the Super Rugby competition than Sevens,” Jackson said.
“The 10s game has more structure like 15s and involves players in all positions – tight forwards, loosies, inside backs, outside backs. But there is the space for exciting open running rugby like Sevens.
“We have some exciting runners and ball-handlers both in the backs and forwards, and also some skilful players, who have filled in as replacements, who have earned their chance after training really diligently through our pre-season.”
Chris Boyd, Hurricanes
“It’s something different and I know our guys are really looking forward to getting over to Brisbane and getting stuck in. I’m sure there will be some entertaining rugby played by all the teams and with a little extra space it should be pretty attractive for the spectators.”
Boyd said the defending Investec Super Rugby champions were looking forward to meeting some of the local rugby community at the Sunnybank Rugby Club in Brisbane and hopefully helping to promote the game of rugby union.
Andrew Strawbridge, Chiefs
“We are really looking forward to being part of this shortened format of the game and the challenges it provides around physicality and manipulation of space. The tactical challenges of Tens will test us all.”
NZ SQUADS FOR BRISBANE GLOBAL RUGBY TENS
(capped All Blacks in bold)
Josh Goodhue, Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a, Tom Robinson, Sam Prattley, Kara Pryor, Marcel Renata, Brandon Nansen, Joe Royal, Scott Scrafton, Murphy Taramai, Ambrose Curtis, Matt Duffie, Pasqualle Dunn, Billy Guyton, George Moala, Sam Nock, Declan O’Donnell, Stephen Perofeta, Rene Ranger, Jordan Trainor, Matt Vaega
Tim Perry, Mike Alaalatoa],Oli Jager, Quinten Strange, Chiris Gawler, Mitchell Dunshea, Peter Samu, Jed Brown, Leon Fukofuka, Marty McKenzie, Bryn Hall, Tim Bateman, David Havilli, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Andrew Makalio, Seta Tamanivalu, Ben Funnell, Whetu Douglas, Mitchell Hunt, Digby Ioane, Sione Fifita ,Manasa Mataele, Sean Wainui, Jordan Taufua
Aki Seiuli, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Liam Coltman, Josh Dickson, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, James Lentjes, Craig Millar, Dillon Hunt, Gareth Evans, Luke Whitelock, Kayne Hammington, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Tei Walden, Rob Thompson, Jason Emery, Tevita Li, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson, Marty Banks.
Liam Messam, Hikawera Elliott, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Liam Polwart, Atunaisa Moli, Sam Caird, Findlamor Hoeata, Brad Weber, Joseva Ravouvou, Findlay Christie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Sheldon Tovio, Sevu Reece, Jonathan Taumateine, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Alex Nankivell, Dwayne Sweeney, Sosefo Kautai, Taleni Seu, Mitchell Brown, Luteru Laulala, Latu Vaeno, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Graham.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Reg Goodes, Loni Uhila, Ricky Riccitelli, Asafo Aumua, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Joe Apikotoa, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, James Blackwell, Brad Shields, Reed Prinsep, Toa Halafihi, Hugh Renton, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Kemera Hauiti-Parapara, Otere Black, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Jonah Lowe, Jordie Barrett.