New Yarrows Taranaki Bulls head coach Willie Rickards has named his squad for the first two Ranfurly Shield matches of the season against Poverty Bay and Whanganui.
Rickards, who has selected a 33-strong man squad, has struck a balance between rewarding players who had impressive CMK premier club rugby seasons and those who will be regulars in the playing roster this season.
“We believe we have a good combination of experienced Mitre10 Cup players as well as top CMK club rugby performers who have earned the right to have an opportunity to represent their province” Rickards said.
There are 13 potential debutants in the squad who have had strong club seasons, including props Scott Mellow and Kyle Stewart, lock Jack Jordan, loose forward Kaylum Boshier, halfback Shaan Waite, mid-fielders Brayton Northcott-Hill and Josh Setu and outside backs Liam Blyde and Jayson Potroz.
Taranaki welcomes back the return of lock Jarrad Hoeata, who last played for Taranaki in 2013 and had a spell overseas.
New to the frame this year is former Francis Douglas Memorial College student Chris Gawler who returns to Taranaki after playing for Canterbury while studying at university.
The new head coach is also keen to deliver strong performances against the two Heartland provinces.
“The squad we have selected reflects both the importance that we are placing on the upcoming games and reinforces the respect Taranaki Rugby has for both Poverty Bay and Whanganui Rugby Football Unions” he said.
A number of Taranaki players will have a chance to play against their old province. Toa Halafihi, Adrian Wyril, Jarred Profit, Beaudein Waaka and Donald Maka all hailed from Gisborne before moving to Taranaki.
This weekend the squad will assemble at a camp held in New Plymouth, before continuing their weekly trainings.
Taranaki last played Whanganui in a Ranfurly Shield match at Yarrow Stadium in 2012, the home side won 51-7. Traditionally, the teams played twice a year – on ANZAC Day in New Plymouth and Queen’s Birthday in the river city – in non-competition matches.
Taranaki won 54-13 when they last played Poverty Bay in a division two match in 1992.
Taranaki’s Mitre10 Cup squad will be named on Monday 6 August ahead of the first competition match against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua on August 18.
Taranaki v Poverty Bay and Wanganui Squad:
Jarred Proffit, Chris Gawler, Donald Maka, Bradley Slater, Scott Mellow, Reuben O’Neill, Asaeli Sorovaki, Kyle Stewart, Paulo Leleisiuao, Jarrad Hoeata, Kane Thompson, Leighton Price, Tupou Vaa’i, Jack Jordan, Mitchell Crosswell, Kaylum Boshier, Tom Florence, Adrian Wyrill, Toa Halafihi.
Logan Crowley, Warwick Lahmert, Shaan Waite, Beaudein Waaka, Ciarahn Matoe, Daniel Waite, Josh Setu, Matthew McKenzie, Latu Vaeno, Brayton Northcott-Hill, Kiniviliame Naholo, Avon Lewis, Liam Blyde, Jayson Potroz.
- Saturday 28 July v Poverty Bay – Tikorangi Domain, 2:35pm
- Saturday 4 August v Wanganui – Hicks Park, 2:35pm Tickets: Adults $10.00, child (5-15) $5.00. -ENDS-