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Chiefs prepare for Retallick-less season under Gatland with rookie-packed squad

By Online Editors
Damian McKenzie. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The next generation of the Gallagher Chiefs will join a formidable group of the Club’s established players.


The Gallagher Chiefs squad for 2020 has been announced and will feature nine rookies, eight current All Blacks, six Maori All Blacks, one Gallagher Chiefs centurion and one international.

Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Warren Gatland said he is confident he has a great group of talented players for the 2020 Investec Super Rugby season.

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“I’m very excited about this group of young men we have assembled, which has a good spread of talented players from throughout our Chiefs region. Within the squad, we have a strong core group of leaders, despite losing the leadership and outstanding ability of 2019 Gallagher Chiefs co-captain Brodie Retallick we regain former co-captain Aaron Cruden.”

“We have retained a large contingent of the squad for the season ahead, which will provide us with a good platform to build on. Adding in a great combination of young talent, we believe the squad we have assembled will thrive in the environment and collectively deliver for the Club as a unit,” said Gatland.

There are four new additions to the forwards in 2020. Called into the 2019 Gallagher Chiefs as an injury replacement player, Taranaki hooker Bradley Slater has been named in the squad for the first time, although he has two Investec Super Rugby caps to his name. The intelligent, hardworking hooker will be joined by Tasman prop Ryan Coxon. The former New Zealand Under 20 representative debuted for the Gallagher Chiefs against the Hurricanes in 2019 and has played four matches for the team.


20-year-old athletic lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi has earned himself selection following an impressive Mitre 10 Cup campaign for Wellington. The youngest Gallagher Chiefs squad member has shown his potential holding his own against experienced opposition. South African born loose forward Dylan Nel has been named in the team for the first time. The oldest of the rookies at 26, Nel is a busy flanker with a solid work ethic. The skillful Otago number eight is no stranger to the Super Rugby environment called in as injury cover for the Crusaders in 2017, however, is yet to make his Investec Super Rugby debut.

Five exciting backs will also join the squad in 2019. Taranaki teammates halfback Lisati Milo-Harris and winger Kini Naholo will set out to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey. Illusive Waikato back Quinn Tupaea and Bay of Plenty playmaker Kaleb Trask will be aspiring to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts. Both have donned the black jersey for New Zealand Under 20s, Tupaea in 2019 and Trask in 2018.

Counties Manukau midfielder Orbyn Leger is named in the team for the first time, although he has nine Investec Super Rugby caps to his name. After a call-up into the 2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad as an injury replacement player, the midfielder debuted at first five-eighth in round one against the Highlanders.


2020 Gallagher Chiefs Squad:

Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty, 58)
Bradley Slater (Taranaki, 2*)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato, 22)

Ryan Coxon (Tasman, 4*)
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau, 64)
Atunaisa Moli (Tasman, 36)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki, *)
Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty, 24)
Angus Ta’avao (Auckland, 79)

Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Wellington, *)
Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty, 26)
Michael Allardice (Hawke’s Bay, 40)
Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato, *)

Loose Forwards:
Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki, 42)
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki, 31)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 111)
Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki, 15)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato, 21)
Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty, 19)
Dylan Nel (Otago, *)

Lisati Milo-Harris (Taranaki, *)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki, 42)
Brad Weber (Hawke’s Bay, 71)

First five-eighths:
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu, 114)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay, 3)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato, 72)
Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty, *)

Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau, 9)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato, 68)
Tumua Manu (Auckland, 20)
Alex Nankivell (Tasman, 21)
Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato, 5)

Outside backs:
Solomon Alaimalo (Waikato, 37)
Sam McNicol (Hawke’s Bay, 12)
Kini Naholo (Taranaki, *)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau, 11)
Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour, 33)
Quinn Tupaea (Waikato, *)
Sean Wainui (Taranaki, 35)


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