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The Chiefs chase third Super Rugby title with squad for 2024

By Ned Lester
The Chiefs celebrate a try in Super Rugby Pacific. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Chiefs will head into the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season as heavy favourites after a stellar 2023 season ended in a devastating loss to perennial winners the Crusaders.

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The club have named a squad more than capable of going all the way, with young guns ready to inherit the jerseys vacated by veteran All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Brad Weber. Sam Cane is also absent for the 2024 season, spending the Kiwi summer in Japan with Suntory.

New faces in the squad include props Kauvaka Kaivelata and Sione Ahio, loose forwards Malachi Wrampling-Alec, Tom Florence and Wallace Sititi, utility forward Jimmy Tupou, midfielder Daniel Rona, and utility back Liam Coombes-Fabling secure their first full-time contracts in 2024.

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“These guys have been knocking on our door for a while now and we are excited to offer them a place this year. They have been impressive throughout NPC and during their time in our environment, so rightly earn their spot within our squad,” said Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan.

“It’s a new look squad for us but despite the changes, there remains a lot of continuity within this group. They are familiar with our environment, know how we do things, and bring a lot to the table.”

Quinn Tupaea will make his long-awaited return from ACL injury, likely to rejoin Anton Lienert-Brown – both of whom have re-signed through to 2025 and 2026 respectively – in a backline that will not feature Alex Nankivell, as the All Blacks XV and Maori All Black talent has joined Munster on a two-year deal.

The superstar rise of Shaun Stevenson will continue in 2024 after the one-time All Black put pen to paper in October to extend his stay at the club for another two years, putting to rest rumours of a potential NRL deal for that period.

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“Despite losing some experienced players, we have spent the last couple of years building the depth of our squad in anticipation for these departures. We have a lot of belief in the men we have selected and are looking forward with anticipation to seeing them take their opportunity in the new year.

“We’ll be putting in the work over summer and can’t wait to kick off the season at home in front of our loyal fans,” said McMillan.

Leading the battle for starting roles given the departures of Retallick and Weber will be Josh Lord and Cortez Ratima, but both will face stiff competition from the likes of 2023 All Blacks XV standout Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Xavier Roe.

Cane’s absence at openside as well as the departure of fan favourite Pita Gus Sowakula will make for plenty of opportunity in the loose forward stocks. Last week’s re-signing of All Black Luke Jacobson trough to 2025 provides a huge boost for the Waikato club.

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Chiefs squad for Super Rugby Pacific 2024

Sione Ahio (Auckland, 0)
Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Bay of Plenty, 49)
Kaylum Boshier (Taranaki, 17)
Liam Coombes-Fabling (Waikato, 4)
George Dyer (Waikato, 21)
Samipeni Finau (Waikato, 32)
Tom Florence (Taranaki, 3)
Josh Ioane (Waikato, 17)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato, 63)
Kauvaka Kaivelata (Counties Manukau, 0)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato, 106)
Josh Lord (Taranaki, 19)
Peniasi Malimali (Counties Manukau, 3)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato, 111)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau, 44)
Emoni Narawa (Bay of Plenty, 29)
Ollie Norris (Waikato, 45)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki, 15)
Simon Parker (Waikato, 8)
Rameka Poihipi (Canterbury, 30)
Jared Proffit (Taranaki, 4)
Cortez Ratima (Waikato, 26)
Xavier Roe (Waikato, 17)
Daniel Rona (Taranaki, 9)
Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty, 74)
Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Bay of Plenty, 5)
Wallace Sititi (North Harbour, 0)
Bradley Slater (Taranaki, 49)
Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour, 84)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Bay of Plenty, 50)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato, 78)
Tyrone Thompson (Hawkes Bay, 15)
Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty, 23)
Quinn Tupaea (Waikato, 34)
Jimmy Tupou (Counties Manukau, 0)
Tupou Vaa’i (Taranaki, 44)
Gideon Wrampling (Waikato, 2)
Malachi Wrampling-Alec (Waikato, 0)

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Flankly 9 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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