Twelve All Blacks, including four Hurricanes centurions, are part of a strong established lineup that welcomes just six new players for the 2019 Investec Super Rugby season.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles, finally clear of injury, is one of 12 All Blacks from the 2018 squad for the 2019 Hurricanes, alongside three other players – Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara and Jeffery To’omaga-Allen – who have all played over 100 games for the team.
There are six new faces in new head coach John Plumtree’s 38-man squad: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (formerly with the Crusaders), flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi and midfielder Billy Proctor (both Wellington), utility forward Liam Mitchell (Manawatu), wing Salesi Rayasi (returning to Wellington from Auckland), and first five-eighth Fletcher Smith (Highlanders).
Former Hurricane James Marshall makes a welcome return to the team, bringing the multipurpose backline skills that contributed so much to the 2016 title-winners back from e overseas.
Coach John Plumtree is excited about the mix of players, with 34 out of the 38 players selected having Super Rugby experience.
“A lot of the boys have been together for a long period of time but on the same side we also have some exciting youngsters that we have brought in,” he said.
“We’ve brought some guys in for development but we’ve got others who we think are good to go.”
The squad will assemble on 29 November, apart from the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks players.
The 2019 Hurricanes:
Outside backs: Jordie Barrett (Taranaki), Ben Lam (Wellington), Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu), James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi (Auckland).
Midfield backs: Vince Aso (Auckland), Wes Goosen (Wellington), Ngani Laumape (Manawatu), Billy Proctor (Wellington), Matt Proctor (Wellington).
First fives: Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Jackson Garden-Bachop (Wellington), Fletcher Smith (Waikato).
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie (Tasman), Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), TJ Perenara (Wellington).
Loose forwards: Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Canterbury), Gareth Evans (Hawke’s Bay), Vaea Fifita (Wellington), Sam Henwood (Counties Manukau), Du’Plessis Kirifi (Wellington), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Ardie Savea (Wellington).
Locks: James Blackwell (Wellington), Geoff Cridge (Hawke’s Bay), Sam Lousi (Wellington), Liam Mitchell (Manawatu), Isaia Walker-Leawere (Wellington).
Props: Fraser Armstrong (Manawatu), Chris Eves (North Harbour), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ben May (Hawke’s Bay), Toby Smith (Waikato), Jeffery To’omaga-Allen (Wellington).
Hookers: Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Dane Coles (Wellington), Ricky Riccitelli (Taranaki).