Wednesday, 1 November, 2017
Seventeen Port Taranaki Bulls in Super Rugby squads
The Port Taranaki Bulls’ successful season has been rewarded with 17 players selected in Super Rugby squads for the 2018 competition.
In congratulating the players, Taranaki Rugby chief executive Michael Collins said their selection was great acknowledgement of Taranaki’s continued achievements on the field and the hard work of the players, coaches and management off it.
“This is a fantastic achievement for a talented group of players who have worked extremely hard to earn their place in the squads. It’s another exciting opportunity for them to develop their games at the next level of professional rugby and push for even higher honours,” Collins said.
“The number of players being selected each year is recognition of the successful environment we have developed here, and we’re very proud of that.”
After finishing up as Port Taranaki Bulls coach this season, Colin Cooper has taken eight players with him as he begins his tenure as Chiefs coach.
Among the group are lock Fin Hoeata, who was part of the Chiefs’ wider training group last year, halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who shifts from the Hurricanes to the Chiefs for 2018, and first five-eighth/fullback Marty McKenzie, who was at the Crusaders in 2017.
Prop Mitchell Graham, who was unable to play any Super Rugby last season after breaking his leg in the pre-season, and loose forward Mitchell Brown, who was ruled out of the Port Taranaki Bulls’ season with a knee injury, join Charlie Ngatai, Johnny Fa’auli and Lachlan Boshier in the Chiefs squad.
There are four Port Taranaki Bulls in the Hurricanes, spearheaded by the Barrett brothers Beauden and Jordie. Jordie Barrett has been out of rugby since suffering a shoulder injury in the Hurricanes’ semifinal loss in July but is expected to return early in the Super Rugby competition.
Well-performed Taranaki hooker Ricky Riccitelli and loose forward Blade Thomson complete the Hurricanes’ Taranaki contingent. Thomson has been out of rugby since May having re-dislocated a shoulder he had surgery on during the 2016 Super Rugby season.
First five-eighth Stephen Perofeta, who was a standout in the Mitre 10 Cup, is the only Taranaki player at the Blues, while All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo flies the Taranaki flag at the Highlanders.
There are three Port Taranaki Bulls players at the Crusaders – lock Scott Barrett, and outside backs Manasa Mataele and Seta Tamanivalu. All three were with the franchise as they claimed the Super Rugby title in 2017.
Several Taranaki players who were in New Zealand Super Rugby squads for 2017 are missing this time around. Port Taranaki Bulls player of the year Toa Halafihi, who was with the Hurricanes in 2017, has taken up an offer with French Top 14 club Lyon, Hurricane James Broadhurst has retired because of concussion issues, and Declan O’Donnell (Blues), Sean Wainui (Crusaders), Kylem O’Donnell (Hurricanes) and Mike Kainga (Hurricanes) have not been selected. Lock Leighton Price was called into the Blues squad during the 2017 season but has an ongoing back injury and has not been included for 2018.
Prop Angus Ta’avao, who had stints as Taranaki captain this season, was a member of the Waratahs squad in 2017 but has missed out on a Super Rugby contract in New Zealand for 2018.
“It’s disappointing for the players who have missed out as I think they would have added plenty to any of the Super Rugby franchises. In particular it is surprising that Angus, Toa, and Sean weren’t considered among the top 190 players in New Zealand – they have a lot of Super Rugby experience and had strong Mitre 10 Cup seasons for Taranaki,” Collins said.
“I know all these players will continue to work hard and look to impress in next year’s Mitre 10 Cup.”
Taranaki players in 2018 Super Rugby squads:
Highlanders: Waisake Naholo
Crusaders: Scott Barrett, Manasa Mataele, Seta Tamanivalu
Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Ricky Riccitelli, Blade Thomson
Chiefs: Charlie Ngatai, Fin Hoeata, Johnny Fa’auli, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Lachlan Boshier, Marty McKenzie, Mitchell Brown, Mitchell Graham
Blues: Stephen Perofeta