Canterbury Head Coach Joe Maddock has today announced his team for the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season, including eight new names from the 2017 Premiership-winning squad.
The new squad members include five forwards and three backs, and a mixture of experienced campaigners and emerging provincial talent. Seven players were also named in yesterday’s All Blacks squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
“We are excited to name our squad today, as we prepare to kick off our 2018 season next Friday night in Blenheim,” Maddock said.
“In the forwards we have named 20 year-old Tom Christie for the first time, although Tom did feature in last year’s Final against Tasman. H
“He captained the New Zealand Under 20 side earlier this year in the Junior World Championship and is a genuine player for the future in red and black.
“The remainder of our new forwards all bring valuable Super Rugby experience to the group. Greg Pleasants-Tate has played for the Highlanders and has established himself as a strong scrummager who is dynamic around the park.
“Prop Sef Fa’agase joins us from the Queensland Reds, and was a member of the Wallabies extended training squad for the 2017 Rugby Championship. Sef is a player we’re excited to give an opportunity to this year.
“Joining Sef in the front row is the experienced Chris King, who has over 100 Super Rugby caps to his name and previous provincial roles with Canterbury, Otago, Southland and Taranaki. His career has come full circle as he re-joins the Canterbury squad, so we know his experience will be invaluable in 2018.
“Whetu Douglas we know well – he was a crowd favourite with the Crusaders last season and he brings plenty of experience to the side, as well as great character. Whetu is a natural leader and his voice will be important for us this season.
“Sam Beard and Phil Burleigh are two new midfielders this year. Both have played for Edinburgh in recent seasons, and Sam also spent two years with Newport in Wales. We’re confident they’ll bring plenty of stability to our midfield combinations, assisting the younger members of our backline with their vast experience.
“Last but not least is exciting new talent, Ngane Punivai. At just 19, Ngane has come through the schools’ and academy system and while he’s a natural centre, we believe he also has plenty of potential to be a powerful winger for us this year,” Maddock said.
Ngane Punivai is a local Christs College product who represented New Zealand schools in 2016. His professional debut has been highly anticipated as he progresses through the Crusaders system. With the departure of Highlanders midfielder Rob Thompson to Manuwatu, Punivai has the chance to feature in the 13 jersey. His younger brother Isaiah Punivai holds a similar pedigree, who is currently at St Kentigern’s and played centre for New Zealand schools last year.
The 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season was launched at a national event in Auckland this morning, where Canterbury hooker Nathan Vella attended as the team’s representative. Canterbury’s Mitre 10 Cup season will officially kick off on 17 August with a replay of last year’s Premiership Final, against Tasman in Blenheim.
2018 Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup squad:
Sam Beard* Burnside
George Bridge HSOB
Phil Burleigh* New Brighton
Brett Cameron Lincoln University
Tom Christie* Christchurch
Hamish Dalzell Lincoln University
Whetu Douglas* University
Mitchell Drummond HSOB
Mitchell Dunshea Lincoln University
Ereatara Enari Lincoln University
Braydon Ennor University
Sef Fa’agase* Darfield
Billy Harmon New Brighton
Alex Hodgman Linwood
Oliver Jager New Brighton
Chris King* Christchurch
Daniel Lienert-Brown HSOB
Caleb Makene Lincoln University
Josh McKay Lincoln University
Greg Pleasants-Tate* Prebbleton
Reed Prinsep HSOB
Ngane Punivai* Lincoln University
Luke Romano Hurunui
Tom Sanders Lincoln University
Siate Tokolahi Sydenham
Nathan Vella New Brighton
*denotes new player in 2018
Canterbury All Blacks:
Owen Franks Linwood
Ryan Crotty New Brighton
Joe Moody Lincoln
Richie Mo’unga Linwood
Codie Taylor Sydenham
Luke Whitelock University
Sam Whitelock Lincoln University
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