McKenzie brothers reunite at the Chiefs
SQUAD ANNOUCNEMENT: A familiar face returns to the Chiefs set-up after a stint with the the Super Rugby Championship the Crusaders.
From the 38-man squad, 31 players return from the 2017 season, including Jonathan Taumateine, Alex Nankivell, Aidan Ross, Fin Hoeata and Samisoni Taukei’aho who all impressed as squad replacement players in 2017.
The squad is boosted by seven current All Blacks, featuring stars Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie, Sam Cane, Nepo Laulala, Kane Hames, Nathan Harris and Anton Lienert-Brown who have all performed key roles throughout the season.
In addition to the high number of returning players for the Chiefs, the 2018 squad has six new players vying to make their Super Rugby debuts for the team. These players are Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Luke Jacobson, Tiaan Falcon, Tyler Ardron, Regan Verney and Levi Aumua and add to the experience and depth across the squad.
While Marty McKenzie returns to the Chiefs from the Crusaders.
The 25-year-old will link back up with younger brother Damian after they played together at the Chiefs in 2015.
Chiefs will kick off their 2018 campaign with a heated New Zealand derby away to fierce rivals the Crusaders.
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Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper is thrilled with the makeup of his new squad and the balance between experience and new players.
"We are very excited about the squad we’ve assembled to the take the Chiefs forward into the 2018 season.
"There’s a high level of experienced players returning in 2018, which combined with the addition of new ambitious and enthusiastic young players completes a great group of men which we’re really looking forward to guiding, developing and working with. For five of these men, it’s a special day for them and their whanau being named in a Super Rugby team for the first time. We congratulate Luke, Tiaan, Tyler, Regan and Levi and their families on this wonderful achievement.
"I am also really happy with the coaching team we’ve assembled, with the addition of Tabai Matson completing a group who collectively brings a great deal of experience in Super Rugby, with plenty of technical and tactical knowledge. I am excited about leading this group of players, coaches and management team into the 2018 season,"
Sam Cane is also excited about a fresh look in 2018.
"I’m really excited about some of the changes we have in place. We have a new coaching/management team and new players coming in. I think it’s going to be a squad that’s new, fresh and exciting and I hope we can gel quickly and play some great Chiefs footy. We’re looking forward to it for sure,"
Forwards: Aidan Ross, Kane Hames, Mitchell Graham, Sosefo Kautai, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Nathan Harris, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Fin Hoeata, Taleni Seu, Tyler Ardron, Mitchell Brown, Liam Messam, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Karpik, Sam Cane.
Backs: Jonathan Taumateine, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, Alex Nankivell, Johnny Fa'auli, Regan Verney, Tim Nanai-Williams, Sam McNicol, Levi Aumua, Toni Pulu, Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson.