The Hurricanes have opted for continuity with the selection of the 2019 squad for the Super Rugby season.
There are just six new faces in new head coach John Plumtree’s 38-man squad, with dynamic Auckland wing Salesi Rayasi, exciting Wellington midfielder Billy Proctor, former Highlanders first five-eighth Fletcher Smith, two-time Super Rugby champion Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, promising Wellington openside flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi and athletic Manawatu utility forward Liam Mitchell joining the club.
As well as the players new to the squad, former Hurricanes utility back James Marshall returns to New Zealand rugby after playing in the United Kingdom and Japan while Bay of Plenty halfback Richard Judd is named in the squad after he made his debut in 2018 when he was called in as injury cover.
There are 12 players named in the squad who were part of the All Blacks 2018 campaign while four players – Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Jeff To’omaga-Allen and Dane Coles – are centurions of the Hurricanes club.
Plumtree was excited about the squad the coaching group had assembled.
Of the 38 players selected, 34 have Super Rugby experience.
“A lot of the boys have been together for a long period of time but we also have some exciting youngsters that we have brought in,” he said.
“We’ve brought some guys in for development but we’ve got others who we think are good to go.”
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles believed the squad had the depth to deal with the demands of the competition.
“We want our players to have a real world class work ethic, we think that’s pretty important and I think our leadership group can really drive that. We’re really keen to welcome in some new guys and we will be looking forward to getting to know them.”
Plumtree said the season’s goal was to make the Super Rugby finals as they had done in the previous four years he had been assistant coach.
“We know how important it is to get a home quarter-final and semi-final in terms of winning this competition but of course there is a lot of work to do before you get there. It’s a really tough competition, there is no June break this year so we are going to have to play consistently well over a longer period of time.”
“We are going to have to use the squad and make sure everyone is fresh and keen and energised for every week. Our standards are very high and our expectations internally are high too. But we want to impress our fans and we want to keep growing the history of this jersey.”
The squad, minus the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks, will assemble on November 29.
The 2019 Hurricanes squad is:
Outside backs: Jordie Barrett (Taranaki), Ben Lam (Wellington), Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi (Auckland).
Midfield backs: Vince Aso (Auckland), Wes Goosen (Wellington), Ngani Laumape (Manawatu), Billy Proctor (Wellington), Matt Proctor (Wellington).
First fives: Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Jackson Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Fletcher Smith (Waikato).
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie (Tasman), Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), TJ Perenara (Wellington).
Loose forwards: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Gareth Evans (Hawke’s Bay), Vaea Fifita (Wellington), Sam Henwood (Counties Manukau), Du’Plessis Kirifi (Wellington), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Ardie Savea (Wellington).
Locks: James Blackwell (Wellington), Geoff Cridge (Hawke’s Bay), Sam Lousi (Wellington), Liam Mitchell (Manawatu), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington).
Props: Fraser Armstrong (Manawatu), Chris Eves (North Harbour), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ben May (Hawke’s Bay), Toby Smith (Waikato), Jeff To’omaga-Allen (Wellington).
Hookers: Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Dane Coles (Wellington), Ricky Riccitelli (Taranaki).
Note: Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington) is not available due to injury.
NEW TO THE HURRICANES
Salesi Rayasi, Billy Proctor, Liam Mitchell, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis and Fletcher Smith