Tongan Bear bolsters Hurricanes squad

Date published: October 27 2015

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Waikato prop Loni Uhila and former Blues scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park are among the new faces in the Hurricanes Super Rugby squad. 

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.

Uhila, affectionately 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, 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.

Hurricanes 2016 Super Rugby squad:

Mark Abbott (Hawke’s Bay), Pita Ahki (North Harbour)*, Leni Apisai (Wellington), Vince Aso (Auckland), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Otere Black (Manawatu), James Broadhurst (Taranaki), Dane Coles (Wellington), Geoffrey Cridge (Hawke’s Bay), Chris Eves (Manawatu), Michael Fatialofa (Auckland)*, Vaea Fifita (Wellington), Callum Gibbins (Manawatu), Jamison Gibson-Park (Taranaki)*, Reggie Goodes (Wellington), Willis Halaholo (Southland), Iopu Iopu-Aso (Taranaki), Cory Jane (Wellington), Tony Lamborn (Hawke’s Bay)*, Ngani Laumape (Manawatu)*, Christian Lloyd (Wellington), James Marshall (Taranaki), Motu Matu’u (Wellington), Ben May (Wellington), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), TJ Perenara (Wellington), Matt Proctor (Wellington), Hugh Renton (Hawke’s Bay), Hisa Sasagi (Otago)*, Ardie Savea (Wellington), Julian Savea (Wellington), Brad Shields (Wellington), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)*, Blade Thomson (Taranaki), Jeffery To’omaga-Allen (Wellington), Loni Uhila (Waikato)*, TJ Va’a (Wellington)*, Victor Vito (Wellington), Jason Woodward (Wellington).

*Indicates new to Hurricanes squad.

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