PREVIEW: New Zealand Conference

GettyImages 1133455932

The New Zealand Super Rugby conference performed well last year. Four of the five clubs made the playoffs and obviously the Crusaders went onto win the competition for a third consecutive year. This is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.

 

Blues

Stadium: Eden Park, Auckland

2019 result: 13th

 

2020 squad: Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Aaron Carroll, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Matt Duffie, Kurt Eklund, TJ Faiane, Blake Gibson, Josh Goodhue, Jack Heighton, Alex Hodgman, Jordan Hyland, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Joe Marchant, Emoni Narawa, Ray Niuia, Sam Nock, Jared Page, Dalton Papalii, James Parsons, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Pierce, Harry Plummer, Marcel Renata, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea, Tanielu Tele'a, James Tucker, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi.

 

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald will feel slightly more settled in the drivers seat this year and we really do anticipate a stronger season from the Auckland club. It will be intriguing to see how Rieko Ioane goes in the midfield and we are excited to see the return of Karl Tu’inukuafe and also Akira Ioane who is refreshed after a frustrating 2019 season. Exhilarating rookie Emoni Narawa will look to spark up the Blues backline and then of course Beauden Barrett will line up for his new club part way through the season, with much-anticipation.

Chiefs

Stadium: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

2019 result: 7th

 

2020 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

 

The Chiefs are a genuine title contender in 2020. Their backline is thrilling – Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie will link nicely with the likes of Alex Nanikvell, Solomon Alaimalo and rookie Quinn Tupaea. Their forward pack is strong and if everyone stays fit and healthy, and they start much stronger than they did last year, we expect the Chiefs to be a force to be reckoned with under Warren Gatland.

Hurricanes

Stadium: Sky Sport Stadium, Wellington

2019 result: 4th

 

2020 squad: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, James Blackwell, Kane Le'aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere Vaea Fifita, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Devan Flanders, Gareth Evans, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine, Jackson Garden- Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala, Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, James Marshall, Chase Tiatia.

 

As always, the Hurricanes have attacking flare right throughout their backline and it will be interesting to see where head coach Jason Holland slots Jordie Barrett. There has been much talk about him playing at 10, but he has been named as a midfield back. Ngani Laumape will be determined to have a solid season and get back into the All Blacks set up after narrowly missing out on the World Cup squad last year. It will be good to see impressive prop Tyrel Lomax link up with Dane Coles and the likes of Ben May in the Hurricanes front row.

Crusaders

Stadium: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

2019 result: 1st

 

2020 squad: Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, Scott Barrett (c), Ethan Blackadder, George Bower, Tom Christie, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili, Oliver Jager, Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Quinten Strange, Codie Taylor, Isi Tuungafasi, George Bridge, Fergus Burke, Brett Cameron, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Faingaanuku, Inga Finau, Jack Goodhue, Bryn Hall, David Havili, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Dallas McLeod, Richie Mo'unga, Fetuli Paea, Sevu Reece.

 

It will be interesting to see how the Crusaders go this year, with such a massive change in personnel. However, they could be even more dangerous with a fresher approach and new voices in the squad. They’ve still retained a strong backline and their forward pack is by no means weak. Scott Robertson’s gone with Scott Barrett as his skipper and we look forward to seeing how he goes in that leadership role.   

Highlanders

Stadium: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

2019 result: 8th

 

2020 squad: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ricky Jackson (out for season due to injury - replaced by Nathan Vella), Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan De Groot, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Shannon Frizell, Sione Misiloi, Zane Kapeli, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Jesse Parete, Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Mitch Hunt, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Ngane Punivai, Jona Nareki, Tevita Nabura, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Chris Kuridrani, Connor Garden-Bachop (out for season due to injury-replaced by Lotima Fainga'anuku).

 

We predict the Highlanders to be the silent assassins in 2020. Not a lot has been said about the southerners, but they have several strike weapons in their backline, including Sevens player Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku who has been brought into the squad for the injured Connor Garden-Bachop. They have also maintained a solid midfield in Teihorangi Walden and Patelesio Tomkinson. When adding in their world-class 9-10 pairing of Aaron Smith and Josh Ioane, the Highlanders will be a threat to all-comers in 2020.

 

LATEST NEWS

View all