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Australian and Fijian Drua squads revealed for 2022 Super Rugby Pacific

By Alex McLeod

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The five Australian Super Rugby Pacific franchises – the Brumbies, Reds, Rebels, Force and Waratahs – and the Fijian Drua have unveiled their squads for next season.

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On the same day the New Zealand and Moana Pasifika squads were announced, their Australian and Fijian counterparts revealed their squad lists, which confirmed the return of numerous key figures.

The headline acquisition among those is Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who has returned from his sabbatical in Japan with Toyota Verblitz to link back up with the Waratahs after their horror winless campaigns in Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster reacts to 40-25 defeat to France in Paris | RugbyPass
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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster reacts to 40-25 defeat to France in Paris | RugbyPass

Hooper is joined in his return to the Waratahs from Japan by Toyota Verblitz teammate Jed Holloway and 25-test international Ned Hanigan.

The Sydney-based franchise have, however, lost a number of prominent players, such as locks Sam Caird and Jack Whetton, as well as Wallabies duo Jack Maddocks and Jack Dempsey.

Another Wallabies returnee from abroad is lock Matt Philip, who has re-signed with the Melbourne Rebels following a season-long spell with Pau in France’s Top 14.

Philip, Flying Fijians halfback Moses Sorovi and Australian sevens representative Joe Pincus are the major pick-ups for the Rebels, who have endured a poor off-season on the recruitment front.

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In that respect, they have lost star wing Marika Koroibete and Wallabies No 8 Isi Naisarani to Japan, veteran fullback Dane Haylett-Petty to retirement and Fijian international Frank Lomani to Harlequins in England.

Nevertheless, the Rebels have still retained Wallabies representatives Andrew Kellaway, Matt To’omua, Reece Hodge, Rob Leota, Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Joe Powell and James Hanson in their 2022 squad.

In Western Australia, the Force have lured back Wallabies lock Izack Rodda from French club Lyon after he left for Europe amid the player pay cuts forced upon Rugby Australia by Covid-19 last year.

Now back in test rugby and Super Rugby, Rodda will be tasked with helping the Perth-based club build on their breakthrough victories this year after going winless during their Super Rugby comeback in 2020.

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Rodda will be supported in that quest by international teammate Feleti Kaitu’u and fellow newbies Manasa Mataele, the Fijian wing formerly of the Crusaders, and ex-Brumbies quintet Issak Fines, Bayley Kuenzle, Reesjan Pasitoa, Reece Tapine and Harry Lloyd.

Those players will help fill the void left by departing Force players such as Argentine international Tomas Lezana, Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Miotti, ex-Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani and retired Ireland great Rob Kearney.

Other casualties for the Force include Manu Samoa midfielder Henry Taefu, Leicester Tigers loanee Jordan Olowofela, USA Eagles utility back Marcel Brache and veteran playmaker Jono Lance.

In the Australian capital, the Brumbies have looked both within and abroad to help offset the departure of the five aforementioned players who have linked up with the Force.

Dan McKellar’s side have also been forced to replace lock James Tucker and outside back duo Solomone Kata and Mack Hansen, all of whom have left for greener pastures.

As such, the Canberra-based side recalled a franchise great in Jesse Mogg, who returns for a second stint with the Brumbies after six-year stay in France.

Mogg will be joined in the outside backs by two-test Wallabies utility back Chris Feauai-Sautia, who was dropped by the Reds in the lead-up to this year’s competition, and ex-Waratahs speedster Cam Clark, who returns from a brief spell in Major League Rugby.

The backline will also feature All Blacks Sevens star Ollie Sapsford, who have been recruited following a string of impressive performances for Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s NPC.

Three-test Samoan international Rodney Iona, meanwhile, will accompany rising Wallabies prospect Noah Lolesio as the squad’s chief playmakers.

Lolesio is one of 19 Brumbies players who have been involved in the Wallabies set-up under current boss Dave Rennie, which is indicative of the franchise’s status as one of Australia’s best chances in next year’s edition of Super Rugby Pacific.

Their biggest rivals as Australia’s best team, though, is the Queensland Reds, who claimed the last Super Rugby AU title in dramatic fashion earlier this year.

Since then, head coach Brad Thorn has only had to deal with a handful of alterations to his squad as he has retained the majority of his roster for next season.

The biggest loss facing the Brisbane-based franchise is that of Wallabies hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, who has inked a deal to join Montpellier in the Top 14.

The only other departures from the Queensland side is halfback Moses Sorovi, who has joined the Rebels, and fullback Bryce Hegarty, who has linked up with the Leicester Tigers.

In their place come a quartet of new faces, the most notable of which is teenage playmaker Tom Lynagh, the son of former World Cup-winning Wallabies first-five Michael who joins the Reds from Harlequins in England.

Lynagh will be joined as a rookie in the Reds squad, which includes 10 Australian internationals, by Spencer Jeans, George Blake and Lopeti Faifua.

As one of two expansion franchises, the Fijian Drua spent its entire off-season recruiting new players, many of whom have already been announced, and have ended up with some top talents within their ranks.

Olympic gold medallists Napolioni Bolaca, Meli Derenalagi, Kalione Nasoko and Kitione Taliga have both been included in the squad, which will be coached by ex-All Blacks and Wallabies assistant Mick Byrne.

The Drua also boast an array of Fijian internationals, the most experienced of whom include hooker Mesu Dolokoto, flanker Nemani Nagusa and prop Manasa Saulo.

Bay of Plenty duo Onisi Ratave and Haeriti Hetet, Tasman lock Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Northland pair Zuriel Togiatama and Raikabula Momoedonu, and Counties Manukau lock Viliame Rarasea have all been handed contracts after strong NPC seasons.

2022 Brumbies squad

Props: Allan Alaalatoa, Fred Kaihea, Sefo Kautai, Tom Ross, James Slipper, Scott Sio

Hookers: Folau Fainga’a, Lachlan Lonergan, Connal McInerney, Billy Pollard

Locks: Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain

Loose Forwards: Jahrome Brown, Ed Kennedy, Luke Reimer, Pete Samu, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini

Halfbacks: Lachie Albert, Ryan Lonergan, Nic White

First-Fives: Rodney Iona, Noah Lolesio

Centres: Hudson Creighton, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Ollie Sapsford

Outside Backs: Tom Banks, Cam Clark, Jesse Mogg, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

IN: Sefo Kautai, Fred Kaihea, Ed Kennedy, Rod Iona, Hudson Creighton, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ollie Sapsford, Cam Clark, Jesse Mogg

OUT: Bayley Kuenzle, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Reesjan Pasitoa, Reece Tapine, James Tucker, Harry Lloyd, Mack Hansen, Archer Holz, Solomone Kata

2022 Force squad

Props: Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Harry Lloyd, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Angus Wagner

Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester

Locks: Ryan McCauley, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jackson Pugh, Izack Rodda, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush

Loose Forwards: Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander

Halfbacks: Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa, Michael McDonald, Ian Prior

First-Fives: Jake McIntrye, Reejan Pasitoa

Centres: Kyle Godwin, Richard Kahui, Bayley Kuenzle, Grason Makara

Outside Backs: Daniel Ala, Brad Lacey, Manasa Mataele, Jack McGregor, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan, Reece Tapine

IN: Daniel Ala, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Lloyd, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa and Reece Tapine.

OUT: Marcel Brache, Tomas Cubelli, Rob Kearney, Tevita Kuridrani, Jono Lance, Tomas Lezana, Kieran Longbottom, Domingo Miotti, Jordan Olowofela, Jonah Placid, Henry Taefu

2022 Rebels squad

Props: Cabous Eloff, Vaauli (Pone) Faamausili, Matt Gibbon, Cameron Orr, Rhys Van Nek

Hookers: James Hanson, Efi Maafu, Jordan Uelese

Locks: Ross Haylett-Petty, Trevor Hosea, Tom Nowlan, Matt Philip

Loose Forwards: Richard Hardwick, Tamati Ioane, Josh Kemeny, Rob Leota, Jeral Skelton, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin

Halfbacks: Joe Powell, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle

First-Fives: Carter Gordon

Centres: Stacey Ili, Ray Nu’u, Young Tonumaipea, Matt Toomua, Jeral Skelton

Outside Backs: Lachlan Anderson, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Joe Pincus, Ilikena Vudogo

IN: Tamati Ioane, Joe Pincus, Moses Sorovi, Efi Maafu, Matt Philip

OUT:  Lucio Sordoni, Ignacio Calas, Steve Cummins, Lewis Holland, Frank Lomani, Tom Pincus, Dane Haylett-Petty, Isi Naisarani, Marika Koroibete

2022 Reds squad

Props: George Blake, Feao Fotuaika, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Taniela Tupou, Dane Zander

Hookers: Richie Asiata, Alex Mafi, Josh Nasser

Locks: Angus Blyth, Lopeti Faifua, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima

Loose Forwards: Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Uru, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright

Halfbacks: Spencer Jeans, Tate McDermott, Kalani Thomas

First-Fives: Lawson Creighton, Tom Lynagh, James O’Connor

Centres: Josh Flook, Isaac Henry, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart

Outside Backs: Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Ilaisa Droasese, Mac Grealy, Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu

IN: Spencer Jeans, Tom Lynagh, Lopeti Faifua. George Blake

OUT: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Bryce Hegarty, Moses Sorovi

2022 Waratahs squad

Props: Angus Bell, Tiaan Taukipulu, Te Tera Faulkner, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ruan Smith, Archer Holz

Hookers: David Porecki, Tom Horton

Locks: Max Douglas, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Hugh Bokenham, Jeremy Williams

Loose Forwards: Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Lachie Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Hugh Sinclair, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson

Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Henry Robertson

First-Fives: Will Harrison, Tane Edmed, Ben Donaldson

Centres: Joey Walton, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Mosese Tuipulotu

Outside Backs: Mark Nawaqanitawase, Alex Newsome, James Ramm, Tristan Reilly, Tevita Funa, Dylan Pietsch

IN: Ruan Smith, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper, Tevita Funa, Dylan Pietsch, Archer Holz, Hugh Bokenham

OUT: Robbie Abel, Chris Talakai, Jack Whetton, Sam Caird, Sam Wykes, Jack Dempsey, Tepai Moeroa, Jack Maddocks, Joe Cotton, Chris Tatola

2022 Fijian Drua squad

Props: Haereiti Hetet, Jone Koroiduadua, Meli Tuni, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Manasa Saulo, Samuela Tawake

Hookers: Mesu Dolokoto, Tevita Ikanivere, Zuriel Togiatama

Locks: Chris Minimbi, Ratu Rotuisolia, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Viliame Rarasea

Loose Forwards: Joseva Tamani, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi, Nemani Nagusa, Raikabula Momoedonu, Rusiate Nasove, Vilive Miramira, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta

Halfbacks: Leone Nawai, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli

First-Fives: Teti Tela

Centres: Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Kalione Nasoko, Seru Vularika

Outside Backs: Onisi Ratave, Vinaya Habosi, Kitione Taliga, Napolioni Bolaca, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre

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