Australian and Fijian Drua squads revealed for 2022 Super Rugby Pacific
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.
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.
Hooper is joined in his return to the Waratahs from Japan by Toyota Verblitz teammate Jed Holloway and 25-test international Ned Hanigan.
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.
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.
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.
In the wake of an off-season where they lost a number of key players, the Highlanders have recruited strongly ahead of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season. #Highlanders #SuperRugbyPacific https://t.co/g6VHHTu7k7
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2021
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.
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.
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
Halfbacks: Lachie Albert, Ryan Lonergan, Nic White
First-Fives: Rodney Iona, Noah Lolesio
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
2022 Force squad
Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester
Halfbacks: Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa, Michael McDonald, Ian Prior
First-Fives: Jake McIntrye, Reejan Pasitoa
Centres: Kyle Godwin, Richard Kahui, Bayley Kuenzle, Grason Makara
IN: Daniel Ala, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Lloyd, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa and Reece Tapine.
2022 Rebels squad
Hookers: James Hanson, Efi Maafu, Jordan Uelese
Halfbacks: Joe Powell, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle
First-Fives: Carter Gordon
Outside Backs: Lachlan Anderson, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Joe Pincus, Ilikena Vudogo
IN: Tamati Ioane, Joe Pincus, Moses Sorovi, Efi Maafu, Matt Philip
2022 Reds squad
Hookers: Richie Asiata, Alex Mafi, Josh Nasser
Halfbacks: Spencer Jeans, Tate McDermott, Kalani Thomas
First-Fives: Lawson Creighton, Tom Lynagh, James O’Connor
IN: Spencer Jeans, Tom Lynagh, Lopeti Faifua. George Blake
OUT: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Bryce Hegarty, Moses Sorovi
2022 Waratahs squad
Hookers: David Porecki, Tom Horton
Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Henry Robertson
First-Fives: Will Harrison, Tane Edmed, Ben Donaldson
IN: Ruan Smith, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper, Tevita Funa, Dylan Pietsch, Archer Holz, Hugh Bokenham
2022 Fijian Drua squad
Hookers: Mesu Dolokoto, Tevita Ikanivere, Zuriel Togiatama
Locks: Chris Minimbi, Ratu Rotuisolia, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Viliame Rarasea
Halfbacks: Leone Nawai, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli
First-Fives: Teti Tela
Centres: Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Kalione Nasoko, Seru Vularika
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