Hawke’s Bay’s Lolagi Visinia and Wellington’s Pepesana Patafilo will take up the final two spots in next year’s Hurricanes roster.
The 2021 squad will officially assemble on January 7, leaving them around five weeks to prepare for the first pre-season fixture.
“Lolagi has returned from overseas and has been a dominant force in the Magpies backline. He is strong with ball in hand and has a long kicking game. Peps is an exciting attacker with excellent feet and ability to beat a defender,” Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland says.
“We are excited about the calibre of people we have in this squad. A massive work ethic and the ability to have fun along the way are key characteristics we will be driving from the first day on-site.”
Visinia, 27, who helped Hawke’s Bay win the Mitre 10 Cup Championship has experience playing for the All Black Sevens, Blues, Grenoble, and most recently the NEC Green Rockets.
After the 2020 Japanese Top League season was cancelled, Visinia was forced to return home.
“I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do this year regarding rugby but was fortunate enough to get an opportunity. I’m glad I got a lot of game time which opened up a chance for the Canes to have a look at me.
“I like the brand of rugby the Canes play. I’m looking forward to meeting all the boys, learning the culture, building relationships, and having the common goal of winning the championship.”
Meanwhile, for 24-year-old Patafilo; 2021 will be his first chance playing Super Rugby and he can’t wait.
“Being in the environment and growing my game at that next level is something I’m really looking forward to. I would love to wear that Hurricanes jersey and get a debut, keep putting my best foot forward and hopefully will be given the opportunity to express myself.”
“My partner and I shed a few happy tears when I told her, she’s been there with me through it all, so it was nice to tell her the good news.”
The Hurricanes will have plenty of experience among the ranks, including All Blacks Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ardie Savea, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape.
Julian Savea also makes his return to the side, following his return from France and a stand-out season for the Wellington Lions.
The 2021 Hurricanes squad is: