New Zealand Conference Preview

Before listening to our New Zealand Super Rugby conference podcast with Sumo Stevenson do your homework with our conference blog! So many senior players have moved on since the world cup so this preview has never been more important than right now! Podcast links are below.

Soundcloud:
Itunes:
Stitcher:

Blues

Full squad:

Props: Alex Hodgman, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata
Hookers: James Parsons, Kurt Eklund, Ray Niuia
Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Patrick Tuipulotu, James Tucker, Baden Wardlaw, Jacob Pierce
Loose forwards: Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tony Lamborn, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu
Scrumhalves: Jonathan Ruru, Finlay Christie, Sam Nock
Flyhalves:  Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta, Jack Heighton, Jared Page
Centres: Rieko Ioane, Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane, Joe Marchant, Tanielu Tele’a
Outside Backs: Matt Duffie, Jordan Hyland, Mark Telea, Emoni Narawa

New Faces:
Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Finlay Christie (Hurricanes), Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty), Ray Niuia (Tasman), James Tucker (Waikato), Baden Wardlaw (Bay of Plenty), Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (Auckland), Tony Lamborn (USA), Jordyn Hyland (Blues), Mark Telea (North Harbour), Emoni Narawa (Bay of Plenty), Joe Marchant (England), Jack Heighton (North Harbour), Jared Page (North Harbour)

Losses:
Sonny Bill Williams (Toronto Wolfpack), Ma’a Nonu (San Diego Legion), Melani Nanai (Worcester Warriors), Lua Li (North Harvour), Hisa Sasagi (Otago), Leni Apisai (Auckland), Matt Moulds (Worcester Warriors), Scott Scrafton (Hurricanes), Jed Brown (Kintetsu Liners), Matt Matich (Northland), Jimmy Tupou (Shining Arcs), Augustine Pulu (Hino Red Dolphins), Levi Aumua (Tasman), Michael Collins (Highlanders), Jordan Trainor (Auckland)

Best 15:
Karl Tu’inukuafe, James Parsons, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tom Robinson, Dalton Papalii, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Jonathan Ruru, Stephen Perofeta, Tanielu Tele’a, Joe Marchant, Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Beauden Barrett,

Stocks are rising:
Ofa Tu’unugafasi – The All Blacks prop finished the 2019 season with a 40 point three round average. Now well and truly their first choice tighthead, his average should continue to rise!
Joe Marchant – The english international outside centre is a real prospect at only 23 years old. He has speed, footwork and can play a number of positions. How his season will unfold with Rieko also targeting the 13 jersey will be a key thing to watch.

Stocks are falling:
Beauden Barrett – 2019’s top fly half is set to link up with his new teammates midway through the season following an extended break from the game, which was also part of his contract. Source.
Caleb Clarke – The young winger should have been a good shot at owning one of the Blues wings this season, but he will miss a large part of the season after commiting himself to an olympics bid.

Smokie:
Josh Goodhue – With Scott Scrafton moving on to the Hurricanes, Josh should have the chance to lock in some more consistent game time. As a lock with a huge work rate he could be fantasy gold if he can start consistenly over Gerard Cowley-Tuioti.

Chiefs

Full squad:

Props: Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atunaisa Moli, Reuben O’Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao
Hookers: Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei’aho
Locks: Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell
Loose forwards: Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel, Adam Thompson
Scrumhalves: Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber
Flyhalves: Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Kaleb Trask
Centres: Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside Backs: Damian McKenzie, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui

New Faces:
Aaron Cruden (Montpellier), Bradley Slater (Taranki), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Wellington), Dylan Nel (Otago- South African), Lisati Milo-Harris (Taranki), Kini Naholo (Taranki), Quinn Tupaea (Waikato), Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)

Losses:
Kane Hames (Concussion), Sefo Kautai (Kobelco Steelers), Tevita Mafileo (Hurricanes), Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty), Fin Hoeata (Taranaki), Daymon Leasuasu (Counties Manukau), Brodie Retallick (Kobelco Steelers), Mitch Jacobson (Waikato), Jesse Parete (Highlanders), Taleni Seu (Toyota Shuttles), Jonathan Taumateine (Hurricanes), Jack Debreczeni (Hino Red Dolphins), Stephen Donald (NEC Green Rockets), Ataata Moeakiola (Kobelco Steelers), Marty McKenzie (Southland)

Best 15:
Atu Moli, Nathan Harris, Nepo Laulala, Michael Allardice, Tyler Ardron, Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Solomon Alaimalo, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sean Wainui, Damian McKenzie

Stocks are rising:
Aaron Cruden – Back in 2016 Cruden was the 6th ranked fly half above Pollard and Quade. His return back to the Chiefs could have him unlock his full scoring potential alongside fantasy super star Damian McKenzie.

Stocks are falling:
Lachlan Boshier – Boshier took his chance last season with both hands and a 34 point average when the opportunity came knocking. But he should have his work cut out for him to get much game time in 2020 with the return of All Blacks mainstay Sam Cane providing untouchable competition.
Angus Ta’avao – 2019 was a meteoric rise for the former Waratah. But with Nepo Laulala back fighting fit it seems his best may be behind him.

Smokie:
Kini Naholo – Waisake’s youngest brother Kini could well light up Super Rugby in 2020. He still has Alaimalo and Wainui ranked above him, but a few big performances off the bench, or a solitary outside back injury and we could get Naholo 2.0!

Crusaders

Full squad:
Props: Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, George Bower, Joe Moody, Isi Tu’ungafasi, Oliver Jager
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister
Locks: Scott Barrett (c), Mitchell Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange
Loose forwards: Ethan Blackadder, Tom Christie, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili
Scrumhalves: Bryn Hall, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari,
Flyhalves: Richie Mo’unga, Brett Cameron, Fergus Burke,
Centres: Inga Finau, Jack Goodhue, Dallas McLeod, Fetuli Paea
Outside Backs: George Bridge, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Fainga’anuku, David Havili, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Sevu Reece

New Faces:
Dallas McLeod (Canterbury), Tom Christie (Canterbury), Cullen Grace (Canterbury), Sione Havili (Tasman), Brodie McAlister, Ethan Roots (North Harbour), Isi Tuungafasi, Fergus Burke (Canterbury), Inga Finau (Canterbury), Fetuli Paea (Tasman)

Losses:
Tim Bateman (retired), Ryan Crotty (Kubota Spears), Israel Dagg (retired), Owen Franks (Northampton Saints), Ben Funnell (Ricoh Black Rams), Mitchell Hunt (Highlanders), Tim Perry (Tasman), Ngane Punivai (Highlanders), Kieran Read (Toyota Verblitz), Jordan Taufua (Leicester Tigers), Matt Todd (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Sam Whitelock (Wild Knights sabbatical).

Best 15:
Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Michael Alaalatoa, Scott Barrett, Quinten Strange, Tom Sanders, Billy Harmon, Whetu Douglas, Bryn Hall, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, David Havili

Stocks are rising:
Braydon Ennor – Ryan Crotty moving on means there is a vacant midfield position and the man most likely to take the jersey is Ennor. Equally adept at playing in the centres and the ouside backs he is likely going to be a top 10 centre this season.
Billy Harmon – Similar to Ennor, Billy’s opportunity comes with Matt Todd moving on. Sione Havili and young Tom Christie seems to be the only real competition for the jersey, and Harmon should get the first crack.

Stocks are falling:
Manasa Mataele – In 2019’s initial draft you may well have seen Mataele picked up long before expected because of his insane scoring rate. But then Sevu Reece happened…. And no one spoke about Mataele again.

Smokies:
Quinten Strange – Strange is my pick to start in the second row alongside the captain Barrett. He faces some stiff competition from Mitchell Dunshea though. With a 31.5 average from hsi first four starts last year he could be a rock solid fantasy player for any team.

Highlanders

Full squad:
Props: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan De Groot
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ricky Jackson, Nathan Vella
Locks: Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton, Manaaki Selby-Rickit 
Loose forwards: James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Shannon Frizell, Sione Misiloi, Zane Kapeli, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Jesse Parete
Scrumhalves: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava 
Flyhalves: Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Mitch Hunt
Centres: Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory
Outside Backs: Ngane Punivai, Jona Nareki, Tevita Nabura, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Chris Kuridrani, Connor Garden-Bachop, Tima Fainga’anuku, Scott Gregory

New Faces:
Jeff Thwaites (Bay of Plenty), Ethan De Groot (Southland), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Southland), Sione Misiloi (Otago), Zane Kapeli (Bay of Plenty), Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Wellington), Jesse Parete (Chiefs), Mitch Hunt (Crusaders), Ngane Punivai (Crusaders), Jona Nareki (Otago), Michael Collins (Blues), Chris Kuridrani (Reds), Connor Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Scott Gregory (Northland), Tima Fainga’anuku (Tasman Mako), Nathan Vella (Bay of Plenty)

Losses:
Sef Fa’agese (Wellington), Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes), Ray Niuia (Blues), Tom Franklin (Kobe), Jackson Hemopo (Mitsubishi DynaBoars), Luke Whitelock (Pau), Elliot Dixon (Ricoh), Liam Squire (NTT Docomo), Marty Banks (NTT Docomo), Richard Buckman (Kobe), Matt Faddes (Ulster), Tevita Li (Suntory), Waisake Naholo (London Irish), Ben Smith (Pau)

Best 15:
Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman, Siate Tokolahi, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Dillon Hunt, James Lentjes, Shannon Frizell, Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Tevita Nabura, Teihorangi Walden, Rob Thompson, Josh McKay, Michael Collins

Stocks are rising:
Josh McKay – Josh played a bit on the wing in 2019 while Ben Smith held the full back jersey. 2020 should see Josh take full control of his preferred no. 15. and the Mitre 10 Cup’s top try scorer is sure to bring some real razzle out wide for the Highlanders.
Shannon Frizell – Frizell started 2019 with a bang with scores of 87, 67, 32 and 65 with his first four starts. He did fade away in the back half of the season with the return of Liam Squire, but 2020 should almost definitely not find him hit the same problem.

Stocks are falling:
Tei Walden – The crafty No. 12 has one big obstacle this season, holding off Sio Tomkinson. Sio had a good year scattered throughout the Highlanders backline in 2019, another year of development should see him become a real threat to Walden’s playing time.
Dillon Hunt – Hunt had a stand out start to the last season but surely the handbreak is going to be pulled on his development with his biggest competition James Lentjes being named captain for the coming season.

Smokie:
Teariki Ben-Nicholas – Teariki has all the makings of a gun No. 8, he is big, fast, hits hard and has a solid offload game. Someone is going to have to fill Luke Whitelock’s shoes, and it might as well be Teariki!

Hurricanes

Full squad:
Props: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli
Locks: James Blackwell, Kane Le’aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere
Loose forwards: Vaea Fifita, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Devan Flanders, Gareth Evans
Scrumhalves: TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine
Flyhalves: Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith
Centres: Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala
Outside Backs: Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, James Marshall, Chase Tiatia

New Faces:
Tyrel Lomax (Highlanders), Scott Scrafton (Blues), Murphy Taramai (Glendale Raptors), Jamie Booth (Sunwolves), Jonathan Taumateine (Chiefs), Kobus van Wyk (Sharks), Pouri Rakete-Stones (Hawke’s Bay), Devan Flanders (Hawke’s Bay), Tevita Mafileo (Chiefs)

Losses:
Matt Proctor (Northampton), Sam Lousi (Scarlets), Toby Smith (retirement), Beauden Barrett (Blues), Finlay Christie (Blues), Chris Eves (San Diego Legion), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (Wasps), Richard Judd (Suntory Sungoliath), Sam Henwood (NEC Green Rockets), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Toulon), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Mitsubishi DynaBoars), Mark Abbott (Sanix Blues)

Best 15:
Fraser Armstrong, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, TJ Perenara, Fletcher Smith, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett

Stocks are rising:
Tyrel Lomax – Lomax’s development has been one to watch through the Rebels and Highlanders. A move to the Hurricanes was a genius move from the young prospect with a season long starting jersey surely beckoning.
Fletcher Smith – Someone needs to nail down the huge hole left by Beauden and our pick is Fletcher > Jackson. The fleetfooted fly half has some real x-factor and could be a solid fantasy player.

Stocks are falling:
Jamie Booth – What a year Jamie Booth had at the Sunwolves! The kiwi scrum half was exceptional, and earned himself another chance with a kiwi franchise. Fantastic for him, but terrible for fantasy managers. He will obviously be stuck behind Hurricanes stalwart TJ Perenara meaning his fantasy output should drop significantly.
Asafo Aumua – One of the most hyped up hookers in the game, he still has way too much competition from Dane Coles and Ricky Riccitelli. Just don’t do it to yourself!

Smokie:
Isaia Walker-Leawere – One of the most exciting young locks in the competition. Having 2019 behind him to develop will hopefully mean he can make one of the lock positions. Having said that, he does have a lot of reasonably solid competition all pushing for the same spots.

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Written by Harrison Dale

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