Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs unleash sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo for season-opener

Etene Nanai-Seturo in action.
Etene Nanai-Seturo in action. Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand rugby sevens sensation Etene Nanai-Seturo will make his Super Rugby debut against the Highlanders.

The former NZ Warriors league junior has been named along with three other Chiefs debutants for the opening round of the competition this weekend.

In 2018, Nanai-Seturo was at the centre of a tug-of-war battle between the NRL club and New Zealand Rugby - a struggle NZR eventually won.

The 19-year-old starred for the World Cup-winning All Blacks Sevens team last year and after a stellar Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Counties-Manukau, Nanai-Seturo earned a spot in the Chief Super Rugby squad.

Joining the exciting winger in making their first Super Rugby appearances will be 21-year-old first-five Orbyn Leger, centre Tumua Manu and Japanese under-21 international winger Ataata Moeakiola, who has been compared to the great Jonah Lomu.

That injection of youth is balanced by the inclusions of All Black internationals Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienert-Brown, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Angus Ta'avao.

After experiencing a shocking injury toll in 2018, Cooper has early headaches at number 10.

All Black Damian McKenzie (ankle), brother Marty (hip) and Jack Debreczeni (abdominal strain) are all sidelined, handing a start for Leger.

It is a blow for Debreczeni, who returned to his native New Zealand last year, after five seasons at the Rebels, earning a Chiefs contract with an impressive provincial campaign for Northland.

Former All Black Stephen Donald was added to the Chiefs squad this week to bolster their thinning five-eighth stocks. The 35-year-old is named on the bench for the opener.

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper can't wait to unleash his youth brigade onto the competition.

"It will be a proud moment for our debutants, when they run out with the team on Friday," Cooper said.

"It is a privilege to wear the Chiefs jersey and as a team, we want to demonstrate to our whanau and supporters how proud we are to represent our region and club."

Chiefs: 1-Atu Moli, 2-Nathan Harris, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Brodie Retallick (c), 5-Michael Allardice, 6-Mitchell Brown, 7-Lachlan Boshier, 8-Tyler Ardon, 9-Brad Weber, 10-Orbyn Leger, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Anton Lienert-Brown, 13-Tumua Manu, 14-Bailyn Sullivan, 15-Shaun Stevenson

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Telani Seu, Jesse Parete, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Stephen Donald, Ataata Moeakiola.


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