The Canterbury squad to contest the 2014 ITM Cup has been named, with 8 new players among the 36.
Canterbury Head Coach Scott Robertson said they have a promising mix of valuable experience and exciting new talent in the squad, which will be defending the Premiership title that Canterbury won for the sixth consecutive year last season.
“It is great to see the majority of our players from last season return to have another crack at this title. These are players who know how to win the competition and who we already know work briliantly together as a team,” Robertson said.
“But we’ve also got some new faces in the mix this season that we are really excited about. They will bring some new energy and a great blend of skills to the team.”
Four of the 36 new players are props. Sione Faletau, while named in the squad for the first time this season, already has a bit of experience under his belt after he was called into the Canterbury squad partway through last season and notched up five caps.
Daniel Lienert-Brown and Siate Tokolahi have both gained some useful experience spending the latter part of the Super Rugby season training with the Crusaders. Robertson said Lienert-Brown was influential for High School Old Boys’ in the Club Final win this weekend and he looks forward to him doing the same for Canterbury. Robertson said Tokolahi will bring some good scrummaging skills to the pack and is a very strong ball carrier around the field.
The fourth new prop is Alex Hodgeman, who is a Canterbury Rugby Academy graduate and former NZ Under 20 player. He suffered a season ending shoulder injury last year but Roberston said he has recovered from that and has a big future ahead of him.
Loose forward Tom Sanders has been selected following his impressive form for New Zealand in the Junior World Cup. He was a bolter for the U20 team, having only attended the final trial and then becoming one of the most dominant forwards in the team. Roberston said he is a tough player with the attributes and skill set to make his mark in this year’s ITM Cup.
Adding to the lock stocks is Scott Barrett. He is the brother of All Black Beauden Barrett and a former NZ Under 20 player. He played his first game for the Crusaders when they faced England this year. Robertson said he is an athletic lock who can also play 6 and who has a great skill set.
Richie Mo’unga and Rob Thompson will be bringing their impressive talents to the Canterbury backline again this season. They are both named in the squad for the first time in 2014, but will be well known to fans already after being brought into last year’s playing group as injury/All Black cover and appearing in the majority of games. Robertson said they are both very exciting young players who made their mark last year but still have a lot more to offer in this new season.
Canterbury also has a new captain in halfback Willi Heinz, after George Whitelock left to play rugby in Japan. Willi was one of the vice-captains in 2013 and has 46 Canterbury caps to his name.
Canterbury will officially kick off their season at 4:35pm on Saturday 16 August against Auckland at AMI Stadium (Addington).
Canterbury 2014 Squad
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