Building on the success of last year is at the forefront of the Hurricanes' minds heading into the 2016 season, and they believe they have the right balance of experience and youth to do just that.
Coach Chris Boyd is pleased with the scale of expertise scattered throughout the team, with 30 returning players and nine new faces rounding out their 39-man squad, the only obvious omissions being the absence of veterans Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
Waikato prop Loni Uhila, otherwise known as the Tongan Bear, was the latest addition to the Hurricanes’ line-up, and will be joined by fellow newcomers Pita Ahki, Ngani Laumape, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Hisa Sasagi, Michael Fatialofa, Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson-Park and TJ Va’a.
“We’re very happy with the guys we have returning from last year, while we strongly believe the new players coming in will add some great value to our overall squad,” said Boyd.
“Many of them will take their well-earned breaks now, following the ITM Cup, and we’ll look forward to getting back together later next month.” Boyd said due to the Rugby World Cup happening in place of an end of year tour, the Hurricanes’ six All Blacks would be integrated back into the set-up about three weeks earlier than usual, at the start of January.
“That will be great for our preparation and team camaraderie, so we’re really looking forward to getting everyone back together nice and early for that build-up period.”
Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee said having a mix of players with proven Super Rugby experience, contrasting with young guys who had bucket loads of talent was an exciting prospect for both the organisation, and fans.
“We know we’ve got a great playing side here who will be fantastic to watch, so we’ve been working pretty hard to put some great membership packages together which we’re looking forward to announcing next week.
“It was great to see our fans really come to life last season, and we’re pretty keen to do what we can to keep that vibe alive heading into 2016,” he said.
2016 Hurricanes Squad:
Forwards: Mark Abbott, Leni Apisai, James Broadhurst, Dane Coles, Geoffrey Cridge, Chris Eves, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Reggie Goodes, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Tony Lamborn, Ngani Laumape, Christian Lloyd, Motu Matu'u, Ben May, Hugh Renton, Hisa Sasagi, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, Loni Uhila, Victor Vito.
Backs: Pita Ahki, Vince Aso, Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Cory Jane, Ngani Laumape, James Marshall, Nehe Milner-Skudder, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Julian Savea, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, TJ Va’a, Jason Woodward.