Super Rugby Pacific: Week one team announcements

Official team lists and injury news for NZ teams in this week's round of Super Rugby Pacific.

Chiefs v Crusaders

7pm Friday, February 23

FMG Stadium, Hamilton

All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho will start from the bench for the Chiefs, as they host the rematch of last year's Super Rugby Pacific finalists.

Quinn Tupaea in action for the Chiefs.
Quinn Tupaea in action for the Chiefs. Photo credit: Getty Images

Xavier Roe gets the nod at halfback over Cortez Ratima, while Damain McKenzie will begin his campaign for the All Blacks No.10 jersey outside him. After missing last season through injury, Quinn Tupaea returns to form an international midfield combination with Anton Lienert-Brown.

Chiefs: 1- Aidan Ross, 2-Bradley Slater, 3-Reuben O'Neill, 4-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 5-Tupou Vaa'i, 6-Samipeni Finau, 7-Kaylum Boshier, 8-Luke Jacobson (c), 9-Xavier Roe, 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Liam Coombes-Fabling, 15- Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-George Dyer, 19-Jimmy Tupou, 20-Simon Parker, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Josh Ioane, 23-Daniel Rona  

The Crusaders reboot begins without all the departed headliners from last year - coach Scott Robertson, Richie Mo'unga, Sam Whitelock and Jack Goodhue - but also a fair few incumbents on injury breaks or extended rest.

Will Jordan is the big absence, but we should probably get used to that. Chay Fihaki gets the first chance to step into the No.15 jersey, Rivez Reihana replaces Mo'unga at first-five, while Levi Aumua and Dallas McLeod form a powerful midfield.

Crusaders: 1- George Bower, 2-George Bell, 3-Tamaiti Williams, 4-Scott Barrett (c), 5-Quentin Strange, 6- Dominic Gardiner, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Cullen Grace, 9-Mitch Drummond, 10-Rivez Reihana, 11-Macca Springer, 12-Dallas McLeod, 12-Levi Aumua, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Chay Fihaki

Reserves: 16-Quinten Macdonald, 17-Joe Moody, 18-Owen Franks, 19-Jamie Hannah, 20-Christian Lio-Willie, 21-Noah Hotham, 22-Taha Kemara, 23-Ryan Crotty


Western Force v Hurricanes

Midnight Friday, February 23

HBF Park, Perth

All Blacks halfback Cam Roigard will come off the bench for the Canes' opening match of 2024, after missing the side's two pre-season contests with a minor injury.  

In his absence, Manawatu's Jordi Viljoen will don the No. 9 jersey for his Super Rugby Pacific debut, with TJ Perenara not yet ready to return to the fold after his year off with a ruptured Achilles.

Perenara played in the pre-season win over Moana Pasifika but coach Clark Laidlaw has resisted calling on him against the Force.

"He's had such a long period out that he's not quite ready," said Laidlaw.

"We were super happy with the way he went last week (against Moana) and he's going to play for our development team this week where the plan is to try and get 50 minutes.

"That was always the plan and he's probably ahead of schedule and we're really happy with how he's going."

Captain Brad Shields has also been ruled out with injury. Asafo Aumua and Jordie Barrett have been named as co-captains.

Centre Billy Proctor will earn his 50th cap for the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes: 1-Xavier Numea, 2-Asafo Aumua, 3-Pasilio Tosi, 4-Caleb Delany, 5-Isaia Walker-Leawere, 6-Devan Flanders, 7-Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8-Peter Lakai, 9-Jordi Viljoe, 10-Brett Cameron, 11-Kini Naholo, 12-Jordie Barrett, 13-Billy Proctor, 14-Josh Moorby, 15-Ruben Love

Reserves: 16-James O'Reilly, 17-Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Justin Sangster, 20-Brayden Iose, 21-Cam Roigard, 22-Riley Higgins, 23-Salesi Rayasi


Blues v Fijian Drua

4:30pm Saturday, February 24

Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei

Internationals Caleb Clarke and Angus Ta'avao have been named for their 50th game for the Blues, with Clarke finally surpassing dad Eroni for the franchise appearances. 

Locks Josh Beehre and Laghlan McWhannell, and utility back Cole Forbes have all been named for debuts against the Drua. Halfback Finlay Christie will anchor a potent backline that features fellow All Blacks Stephen Perofeta, Clarke, Rieko Ioane and Mark Tele'a.

Caleb Clarke in action for the Blues.
Caleb Clarke in action for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

Blues: 1-Joshua Fusitu'a, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Sam Darry, 5-Josh Beehre, 6-Anton Segner, 7-Dalton Papali'i (c), 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Stephen Perofeta, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Harry Plummer, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Mark Tele’a, 15-Zarn Sullivan

Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccitelli, 17-Jordan Lay, 18-Marcel Renata, 19-Laghlan McWhannell, 20-Adrian Choat, 21-Sam Nock, 22-AJ Lam, 23-Cole Forbes


Highlanders v Moana Pasifika

7pm Saturday, February 24

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody has named five debutants in his first squad of the 2024 season.

Otago hooker Henry Bell has been rewarded for his stand-out pre-season with the No. 2 jersey at Forsyth Barr Stadium, while Rhys Patchell, Tanielu Tele'a, Timoci Tavatavanawai and Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens have all secured starting berths for round one.   

One notable omission is prop Ethan de Groot, who has been given an extra week to get back up to speed after a knee niggle set him back during pre-season.

Highlanders: 1-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2-Henry Bell, 3-Saula Ma'u, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Fabian Holland, 6-Sean Withy, 7-Billy Harmon (C), 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Folau Fakatava, 10-Rhys Patchell, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Sam Gilbert , 13-Tanielu Tele'a, 14-Timoci Tavatavanawai, 15-Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Reserves: 16. Jack Taylor, 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Oliver Haig, 20. Nikora Broughton, 21. Nathan Hastie, 22. Cameron Millar, 23. Jonah Lowe


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