The Hurricanes have named 38 players in their squad for the 2015 season.
Important old heads, mixed with a couple of significant returning players and the elevation of some exciting youth, is how Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd sums up his 2015 squad.
Boyd announced his full team this morning and said the return of Ma’a Nonu and Reynold Lee-Lo specifically, along with the new faces contracted in midfield positions, were key additions to the Hurricanes roster.
“We’re really happy with the return of Ma’a and Rey. Along with Conrad, they make us extremely competitive in the midfield. We’ve also got Willis (Halaholo) and Vince (Aso), both very capable individuals, who will push and learn from the players around them.”
Along with Aso and Halaholo, there are four additional new faces in the Hurricanes’ 2015 squad.
Christian Lloyd and Geoffrey Cridge have been outlined by selectors as a locking combo with huge potential, while Taranaki’s Iopu Iopu-Aso and Jason Woodward will also look to get their first caps for the club.
Manawatu’s Callum Gibbins, Nehe Milner-Skudder, and Chris Eves have all been promoted to full contracts from wider training group status last year, following strong ITM Cup campaigns with the Championship-winning Turbos.
“We’re really pleased with the contracted squad that we have. If we look at those who have departed, we’ve lost some quality players to overseas clubs, but feel we’ve filled those spots well,” said Boyd.
The Hurricanes’ wider training group includes the return of Adam Hill and Mike Kainga, while halfback Frae Wilson has moved north from the Highlanders.
Boyd said young talents Leni Apisai, Otere Black and Hugh Renton had also earned rightful spots in the wider training group.
“We’ve got half an eye on the future and our succession planning, and have recruited some younger guys we hope will grow and develop around our strong core of senior players.”
The 2015 Hurricanes squad is;
Ben Franks, Mark Abbott , Geoffrey Cridge* (Hawke’s Bay), Dane Coles, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Jeremy Thrush, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Victor Vito, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Jason Woodward*, Reggie Goodes, Motu Matu’u, John Schwalger, Christian Lloyd*, Matt Proctor (Wellington), Callum Gibbins, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Chris Eves, (Manawatu), James Broadhurst, Beauden Barrett, Iopu Iopu-Aso*, Blade Thomson, James Marshall, Chris Smylie (Taranaki), Vince Aso* (Auckland), Reynold Lee-Lo (Counties Manukau), Willis Halaholo* (Southland).
Wider training group: Mike Kainga (Bay of Plenty), Leni Apisai*, Frae Wilson, Adam Hill (Wellington), Otere Black* (Manawatu), Hugh Renton* (Hawke’s Bay).
*New to the Hurricanes.
POSITION: HEAD COACH
This year’s season marks the start of Chris Boyd’s journey with the Hurricanes. His first coaching role was as coach of Tawa Rugby Club, where he spent nine years from 1989 to 1998. In that year he took over as Wellington’s second XV coach, and also became assistant coach to the Wellington Lions in 2003. From 2006 to 2008 he was assistant coach to John Plumtree at the Sharks Super Rugby franchise. He has since worked at the International Rugby Academy of New Zealand as a coaching services advisor, and was defensive coach to the Tonga national rugby team at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Boyd was appointed as Wellington coach of the Wellington Lions in 2011, and took over as head coach of the New Zealand Under-20 team in 2012.
POSITION: ASSISTANT COACH
Plumtree comes to the Hurricanes from Ireland, where he was the national team’s forwards coach in 2013. Prior to that, he gained success as both an assistant and head coach of the Sharks Super Rugby franchise between 2008-2012. Plumtree is no stranger to Wellington, having also coached the Wellington Lions from 2001-2006, taking them to the finals in 2003, 2004 and 2006. The Taranaki-born coach also had a successful playing career as a flanker, with 40 caps for Taranaki to his name. From 1988 to 1997, Plumtree also played 80 matches for the Natal Sharks, winning two Currie Cup medals in 1990 and 1996.
POSITION: TECHNICAL ADVISOR
Laidlaw came to the Hurricanes in 2013, following four years at the Taranaki Rugby Football Union. The native Scotsman had sole control of the Hurricanes’ defensive structures throughout 2014, and has also been instrumental in his role as skills coach with the club. Drawing from his 25-cap career with Scotland’s national sevens team, which included a Commonwealth Games appearance in 2006, Laidlaw has also played a huge coaching role in Wellington Rugby’s sevens programme, helping the men’s team to a national title earlier this year.
POSITION: TECHNICAL ADVISOR
Richard Watt has been with the Hurricanes since 2011 as a technical advisor. The former Wellington representative is also the current assistant coach for the Wellington Lions, a role he has held since he stepped up to support Andre Bell in 2010. In his playing days Watt made 18 appearances for the province and has had a long association with Poneke and Wellington Rugby