Auckland name ITM Cup squad

Getty Images     15 Aug 2012     Getty Images

The squad boasts a good balance of youth and experience, with nine new caps named in a group featuring 16 players with Super Rugby experience.

Daniel Braid will captain the side, and is just eight caps shy of reaching 100 games for Auckland.

Pivac said he was pleased with the make-up of the squad.

“I’m pretty happy with the balance of the squad. There are a lot of experienced guys coming back from Super Rugby, particularly in the forwards and in the backs we’re pretty young so I think it’s really exciting,” Pivac said.

“We’ve got a good group of players who are all motivated for their own individual reasons to do well so we can’t wait to get into it.”

New Zealand Under-20 prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been named in the squad for the first time, alongside new forwards Nathan Vella, Joe Tupe and Steve Fualau.

While Fualau is new to Auckland, he has 27 provincial caps for Canterbury and has also played for Manu Samoa.

In the backs Ben Lam and Albert Nikoro will make their provincial debuts, however both earned caps for the Blues earlier in the year.

At 19, Lolagi Visinia is the youngest member of the team. The wing/fullback was a member of the New Zealand Sevens team this year.

Pakuranga backs Tony Fenner and Malakai Fekitoa are also included in the squad for the first time.

Auckland squad: Gareth Anscombe, Daniel Braid, Auvasa Faleali’i, Malakai Fekitoa, Tony Fenner, Steve Fualau, Nathan Hughes, Ben Lam, Steven Luatua, Pauliasi Manu, Alby Mathewson, Tom McCartney, George Moala, Liaki Moli, Albert Nikoro, Hadleigh Parkes, Sean Polwart, Charles Piutau, Peter Saili, Angus Ta’avao, Joe Tupe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Dave Thomas, Andrew Van der Heijden, Nathan Vella, Lolagi Visinia.