Hurricanes name Super Rugby squad

Date published: November 2 2016

Seven new Hurricanes, including four Super Rugby rookies, feature in their squad which must defend their Super Rugby title in 2017.

Canterbury utility back Jordie Barrett, powerhouse Taranaki loose forward Toa Halafihi, Taranaki halfback Kylem O'Donnell, and Wellington outside back Peter Umaga-Jensen have been selected for their first season of Super Rugby.

In addition to the freshman class, lock Sam Lousi, loose forward Reed Prinsep, and wing Ben Lam join the Hurricanes for the first time from the Waratahs, Crusaders and Blues respectively.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said each of the new comers would add an exciting new dimension to the squad.

"It's exciting to have some fresh faces in the team environment and I feel as though we've ended up with a very well balanced squad and some really interesting new options," Boyd said.

"Reed will add physicality and enthusiasm to our loose forward mix, while Sam brings some real size to the second row and took some positive steps during Wellington's provincial season.

"Ben Lam is an experienced player as is Kylem, while Jordie, Toa and Peter are young guys who can't wait to get stuck in at the next level, so they'll bring a lot of energy."

Boyd said it was important that his squad did not see themselves as defending champions in 2017.

"We are very proud of what we achieved last year and winning the title for the first time, but we'll be going out to win it next year rather than try to defend it. It's an incredibly tough competition, so everybody starts from scratch regardless of what's gone before.

"We've lost a bunch of experience, as have a most of the other squads, so we have to re-establish the culture and we have to tailor our plans to suit the new skill set within the squad. That's a challenge we are all looking forward to."

The Hurricanes squad includes 31 players who took part in the 2016 campaign and will again be captained by hooker Dane Coles.

Full-back Nehe Milner-Skudder is fit and fully recovered from the shoulder injury that kept him out of most of the 2015 campaign, while TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett and wings Cory Jane and Julian Savea will ensure there is plenty of experience in the backline.

Up front Taranaki prop Mike Kainga joins the squad on a full-time basis after being called in late last year for the final push to the title.

The Hurricanes Super Rugby season begins in Japan against the Sunwolves on February 25 and includes eight home matches against Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Brumbies, Stormers, Cheetahs, Chiefs and Crusaders.

The 2017 Hurricanes Super Rugby squad is:

Forwards (22): Props (6): Chris Eves (Manawatu), Reggie Goodes (Wellington), Ben May (Hawke's Bay), Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (Wellington), Loni Uhila (Waikato), Mike Kainga (Taranaki). Hookers (3):  Dane Coles (Wellington) (c), Leni Apisai (Wellington), Ricky Riccitelli (Hawke's Bay). Locks (5): Mark Abbott (Hawke's Bay), James Broadhurst (Taranaki), Geoffrey Cridge (Hawke's Bay), Michael Fatialofa, (Auckland), Sam Lousi (Wellington). Loose forwards: (8) Callum Gibbins (Manawatu), Vaea Fifita (Wellington), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Hugh Renton (Hawke's Bay), Ardie Savea (Wellington), Brad Shields (Wellington), Blade Thomson (Taranaki), Toa Halafihi (Taranaki). 
Backs (16): Scrum-halves (3): TJ Perenara (Wellington), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki), Kylem O'Donnell (Taranaki). Fly-halves: (2) Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Otere Black (Manawatu). Midfield: (4) Vince Aso (Auckland), Ngani Laumape (Manawatu), Matt Proctor (Wellington), Pita Ahki (North Harbour), Wes Goosen (Wellington). Outside backs (6): Cory Jane (Wellington), Julian Savea (Wellington), Ben Lam (Wellington), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington). Utility back: (1) Jordie Barrett (Canterbury).