Cape Town - The
Waratahs have confirmed their 35-man squad for 2017's Super Rugby
season as players officially return to pre-season training this week.
The squad for next year sees 30 out of the 35 players who have been
retained, including the return of experienced Waratahs, Sekope Kepu and
Damien Fitzpatrick, and 12 who have re-committed to the club this year.
12 players have international Test experience, including Tom
Robertson and Tolu Latu who made their Wallabies debuts this year, as
well as Paddy Ryan and Taqele Naiyaravoro who have both recently been
called back in to the Australian squad. Current Wallabies development
players, Andrew Kellaway and Jack Dempsey remain part of the 'Tahs after
both re-signing this year.
The team features eight new signings, including promising young
flyhalf, Mack Mason who has been handed a supplementary squad contract,
together with standout NSW Country Eagles representatives, prop, Sam
Needs and flyhalf, Andrew Deegan, who has been promoted from a
Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson said he was looking forward to
seeing how the team comes together ahead of what will be another big
season of Super Rugby in 2017.
"We have retained a great mix of youth and experience for next
season; players who are keen and determined and will no doubt add new
energy to the team in 2017," Gibson said.
"You only have to look back at the success of our rookies this year,
in both the Super Rugby and NRC, to see the potential of the talent that
we have. I am very confident in the abilities of these new players as
they will no doubt add to the competition for spots.
"At the same time we have grown our leadership capacity with an
emerging set of new leaders to support Michael Hooper and carry the
legacy and culture that form the foundations of this club.
"Our players are proud to represent NSW and enjoy the responsibility
that comes with pulling on the jersey. We want to continue to use this
to create an environment that we want to be part of and for them to take
ownership of the team.
"It is pleasing to see the team made up of so much local talent. This
is a true reflection of the NSW rugby pathways system, which continues
to go from strength to strength as we renew our focus on the grassroots
with the recent amalgamation of the community and professional arms of
Lock Leon Power, who signed with the Waratahs in August, has been
released from the squad to undergo knee surgery after suffering an ACL
injury in the Mitre 10 Cup. A replacement lock will be named in due
Waratahs 35-man squad:
Forwards: Sekope Kepu, Sam Needs (supplementary
squad), Tom Robertson, Paddy Ryan, Matt Sandell, Angus Ta’avao, Damien
Fitzpatrick, Tolu Latu, Hugh Roach, Ned Hanigan, Ryan McCauley (extended
playing squad), Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Senio Toleafoa (extended
playing squad), Jack Dempsey, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Michael
Wells, Brad Wilkin
Backs: Jake Gordon (extended playing squad), Matt
Lucas, Nick Phipps, Andrew Deegan (supplementary squad), Bernard Foley,
Bryce Hegarty, Mack Mason (supplementary squad), Israel Folau, Irae
Simone (extended playing squad), Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Cameron
Clark, Harry Jones (extended playing squad), Taqele Naiyaravoro, Andrew
Kellaway, Reece Robinson