New Zealand Conference Preview

Before you nail your New Zealand Super Rugby conference research with our blog. Why not check out our Podcast with Sumo Stevenson as we pick a part all five teams with plenty of detail!

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Blues

Full squad:

Props: Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Hookers: Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons
Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu
Loose forwards: Jed Brown, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, Jimmy Tupou
Scrumhalves: Sam Nock, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru
Flyhalves: Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer
Centres: Levi Aumua, TJ Faiane, Ma’a Nonu, Tanielu Tele’a, Sonny Bill Williams
Outside Backs: Caleb Clarke, Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor

New Faces:
Ma’a Nonu, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Jacob Pierce, Tom Robinson, Marcel Renata, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer, Tanielu Tele’a

Losses:
Pauliasi Manu (Sunwolves), Isaac Salmon, Mike Tamoaieta, Ross Wright, Lyndon Dunshea, Matiaha Martin, Ben Nee-Nee, Sione Havili, Jerome Kaino, Antonio Kiri Kiri, Glenn Preston, Kara Pryor, Murphy Taramai, Bryn Gatland, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Terrence Hepetema, Matthew Johnson, Orbyn Leger, Tumua Manu, George Moala, Tamati Tua, Jordan Hyland

Best 15:
Karl Tu’inukuafe, James Parsons, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Dalton Papali’i, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Augustine Pulu, Otere Black, Reiko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma’a Nonu, Matt Duffie, Melani Nanai

Stocks are rising:
Blake Gibson – Announced as Co-captain (with Tuipulotu) for 2019 he is sure to play big minutes on the back of an injury plagued 2018 where he only played 3 games. This main is a workhorse in the mould of Matt Todd. Safe money for your Draft Fantasy Team.

Stocks are falling:
Michael Collins – After making the 15 jersey his own the past two seasons, this punter can’t see him having it all his own way in 2019. With growing pressure from the like of Nanai and Clarke expect his minutes to take a steep drop.
Stephen Perofeta – More a word of caution than a dramatic fall. Perofeta owned the 10 jersey last year, but meanwhile ex-Hurricanes recruit Otere Black had torn his ACL and missed the full season. Perofeta should start as the first choice playmaker this year, but Black is a real threat to take it off him.

Chiefs

Full squad:

Props: Kane Hames, Aidan Ross, Reuben O’Neill, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Sosefo Kautai, Angus Ta’avao
Hookers: Nathan Harris Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei’aho
Locks: Brodie Retallick, Tyler Ardron, Laghlan McWhannell, Michael Allardice, Fin Hoeata
Loose forwards: Mitchell Brown, Taleni Seu, Sam Cane, Mitchell Karpik, Lachlan Boshier, Luke Jacobson, Pita Gus Sowakula
Scrumhalves: Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jonathan Taumateine
Flyhalves: Damian McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Jack Debreczeni
Centres: Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside backs: Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Ataata Moeakiola, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Marty McKenzie

New Faces:
Reuben O’Neill, Pita Gus Sowakula, Laghlan McWhannell, Jack Debreczeni, Tumua Manu, Bailyn Sullivan, Etene Nanai-Seturo

Losses:
Karl Tu’inukuafe, Liam Messam, Charlie Ngatai, Toni Pulu, Mitchell Graham, Sam Prattley, Jeff Thwaites, Dominic Bird, Matt Matich, Jesse Parete, Luteru Laulala, Johnny Fa’auli, Regan Verney, Levi Aumua, Tim Nanai-Williams, Declan O’Donnell, Sam McNicol

Best 15:
Kane Hames, Nathan Harris, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Tyler Ardron, Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Shaun Stevenson, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sean Wainui, Solomon Alaimalo

Stocks are rising:
Alex Nankivell – has the opportunity to make the 12 jersey his own with the departure of Ngatai. This agile 22 year old is primed for a big year.
Etene Nanai-Seturo – at 19 years old Etene has already made his debut for the NZ 7’s side. This man is an absolute freak with a wicked step. If he can crack the starting side along with Alaimalo and Stevenson watch out!

Stocks are falling:
Angus Ta’avao – After a standout 2018 Angus is likely to be brought back to earth now that first choice prop Nepo Laulala is fitting fit. Expect him to start the odd game in the NZ style prop rotation policy, but he won’t excel like he did last year.
Tyler Ardron – The Canadian floated between lock and back row last year and had an outstanding season, but don’t expect him to have it all his own way with Allardice pushing him at lock and all of Seu, Boshier, Jacobson,
Gus Sowakula and Karpik all pushing for 2 loose forward spots.

Crusaders

Full squad:

New Faces:
Whetu Douglas, Leicester Faingaanuku, Harrison Allan, Brett Cameron, Ngane Punavai

Losses:
Donald Brighouse, Wyatt Crockett, Chris King, Sam Anderson-Heater, Sebastian Siataga, Pete Samu, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Jack Stratton, Mike Delany, Seta Tamanivalu, Tima Fainga’anuku, Jone Macilai-Tori

Best 15:
Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Kieran Read, Bryn Hall, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Manasa Mataele , David Havili

Stocks are rising:
Manasa Mataele – With Tamanivalu moving on, the Crusaders are in need of a big winger. The only other man that could conceivably take the starting jersey is George Bridge.

Stocks are falling:

Israel Dagg – The gun of yesteryear may have made his last hooray, but finished his year coming off the bench with the return of Dagg. With the emergence of Bridge and Ennor we are unlikely to see him get much game time, even if he is fit.
Read/ Whitelock/ Taylor – We all know they’ll kill it when they play. But with extended rests planned for these three All Blacks in particular, are the worth caring in your fantasy team?

Highlanders

Full squad:

New Faces:
Ayden Johnstone, Sef Fa’agase, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Josh Iosefa Scott, Ray Niuia, Jack Whetton, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks

Losses:
Lima Sopoaga, Fletcher Smith, Guy Millar, Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Alex Ainley, Dan Pryor, Josh Renton

Best 15:
Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Liam Squire, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Tevita Li, Teihorangi Walden, Rob Thompson, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith

Stocks are rising:
Tyrel Lomax – This year will likely be when we stand up and take notice of the young prop, as his game time continues to grow, expect to see less for Tokolahi.

Stocks are falling:
Bryn Gatland – We will probably see him start the year in the 10 jersey but just like at the Blues, I expect the rise of young gun Josh Ioane to cast a shadow over the solid fly-half’s year.

Hurricanes

Full squad:

New Faces:
Fraser Armstrong, Liam Mitchell, Du Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Billy Proctor, Salesi Rayasi, James Marshall, Marcell Renata

Losses:
Brad Shields , Peter Umaga-Jensen, Marcel Renata, James O’Reilly, Natan Vella, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Blade Thomson, Jamie Booth, TJ Va’a, Ihaia West, Julian Savea

Best 15:
Toby Smith, Dane Coles, Jeffery Toomaga-Allan, James Blackwell, Sam Lousi,
Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett

Stocks are rising:
Heiden Bedwell-Curtis – Left the Crusaders in a search for more game time, the exit of Brad Shields means a shift to the blindside could reap immediate rewards for him. Consistent but not Flashy, he could be a mainstay in the side.

Stocks are falling:
Nehe Milner-Skudder – The All Blacks hot stepper has lossed a yard of speed and agility after his big injury run, he has fallen out of favour with the NZ selectors and this could well be the year we see the talents of Goosen or Lowe overtake him as well.

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