Gatland names Chiefs 2020 Super Rugby squad
Hamilton - New Chiefs coach Warren Gatland has named his squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
The Chiefs squad features nine rookies, eight current All Blacks, six Maori All Blacks, one Chiefs centurion and one international.
Gatland, who has returned to New Zealand after coaching Wales, told the Chiefs' official website he has confidence in the group named.
"I'm very excited about this group of young men we have assembled, which has a good spread of talented players from throughout our Chiefs region. Within the squad, we have a strong core group of leaders, despite losing the leadership and outstanding ability of 2019 Chiefs co-captain Brodie Retallick we regain former co-captain Aaron Cruden.
"We have retained a large contingent of the squad for the season ahead, which will provide us with a good platform to build on. Adding in a great combination of young talent, we believe the squad we have assembled will thrive in the environment and collectively deliver for the Club as a unit," said Gatland.
There are four new additions to the forwards in 2020. Called into the 2019 Chiefs as an injury replacement player, Taranaki hooker Bradley Slater has been named in the squad for the first time, although he has two Super Rugby caps to his name. The intelligent, hardworking hooker will be joined by Tasman prop Ryan Coxon. The former New Zealand under-20 representative debuted for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in 2019 and has played four matches for the team.
Twenty-year-old athletic lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi has earned himself selection following an impressive Mitre 10 Cup campaign for Wellington. The youngest Chiefs squad member has shown his potential holding his own against experienced opposition. South African born loose forward Dylan Nel has been named in the team for the first time. The oldest of the rookies at 26, Nel is a busy flanker with a solid work ethic. The skilful Otago No 8is no stranger to the Super Rugby environment called in as injury cover for the Crusaders in 2017, however is yet to make his Super Rugby debut.
Five exciting backs will also join the squad in 2019. Taranaki teammates halfback Lisati Milo-Harris and winger Kini Naholo will set out to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey. Illusive Waikato back Quinn Tupaea and Bay of Plenty play maker Kaleb Trask will be aspiring to make their Super Rugby debuts. Both have donned the black jersey for New Zealand Under 20s, Tupaea in 2019 and Trask in 2018.
Counties Manukau midfielder Orbyn Leger is named in the team for the first time, although he has nine Super Rugby caps to his name. After a call-up into the 2019 Chiefs squad as an injury replacement player, the midfielder debuted at flyhalf in round one against the Highlanders.
The 2020 Chiefs squad will be commencing their pre-season training at the end of November. They kick their Super Rugby season off against the Blues at Eden Park on Friday, January 31.
Chiefs Super Rugby squad:
Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atunaisa Moli, Reuben O'Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta'avao, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel
Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Kaleb Trask, Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo*, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui
- Chiefs Rugby