Six new players and one returning player have been named in the Canterbury squad for the 2017 season, at a national launch for the Mitre 10 Cup competition held in Auckland today.
Canterbury’s coaching group of Head Coach Glenn Delaney and assistants Joe Maddock and Nathan Mauger have added two new players in the forward pack and four in the backline, as the team comes together to prepare for next week’s season opener against Tasman.
Delaney said it was important to be able to blood some young talent in the Mitre 10 Cup, and those selected brought a fresh approach and plenty of enthusiasm to the Canterbury side: “These young players have come through the academy system and were members of the Crusaders Knights team earlier this year. As coaches, it’s exciting to see the raw talent among this new group and we’re really looking forward to seeing them develop throughout the Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
“In the forwards, prop Jack Straker and loose forward Jonno Osborne join our squad for the first time in 2017. They made their debuts off the bench in our Ranfurly Shield match against Wanganui in June, having impressed the coaching group for their respective clubs this season”, Delaney said.
Brett Cameron, Caleb Makene, Josh McKay and Braydon Ennor have all been named as the new backs in the 39-man squad.
“Brett had an impressive debut against Wanganui, and really played himself in to contention for this squad off the back of that effort. He kicked seventeen points for us in that game and, at just 20 years of age has shown he has plenty of potential.
“Caleb was in our Wider Training Group in 2015 and 2016 and represented New Zealand in the Under 20s last year. He's had another impressive club season and has earned promotion to the full Mitre 10 Cup team.
“Josh McKay and Braydon Ennor were both members of the successful New Zealand Under 20 squad that won the World Championship in Georgia earlier this year. Josh proved his versatility when he slotted in at first-five for us against Mid Canterbury on Friday, despite playing most of his recent rugby as an outside back. He has pace to burn and thinks on his feet, so we’re really excited to unlock some of that potential this season.
“Braydon is another intelligent footballer who continues to go from strength to strength. He was a member of the Canterbury Wider Training Group in 2016 and his performances suggest to us that he’s ready to take that next step up to Mitre 10 Cup level”, Delaney said.
This season also sees the return of experienced midfielder Tim Bateman to the Canterbury squad. The 30 year-old first made his provincial debut in red and black back in 2006 and played for Wellington, the Hurricanes, and overseas in Japan before returning to join the Crusaders for the 2017 Super Rugby season.
“Tim will be a fantastic asset to our midfield this season. He returns with plenty of experience at provincial and Super Rugby level, but most important for us will be the leadership qualities he brings to this young backline.
“Luke Whitelock will lead our side again this year. This will be Luke’s third year as captain and as a group we really value his voice in the squad and his ability to lead by example. He’s had an immense Super Rugby campaign, but he’s looking forward to another season with Canterbury and we can’t wait to have him back in our environment”, Delaney said.
24 of the 39-man squad have Super Rugby experience, while 7 of those players will be part of the All Blacks team for the upcoming Investec Rugby Championship.
The Canterbury side travel to Nelson for their first match of the 2017 season, where they will face last year’s beaten Premiership finalists, Tasman. Kick off for the match is scheduled for 7:35pm, Friday 18 August, from Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Canterbury’s first home fixture will be the following week on Sunday 27 August, when they put the Ranfurly Shield on the line against Otago, 4:35pm at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
2017 Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup squad:
Tim Bateman (Christchurch)
Dominic Bird (Lincoln University)
George Bridge (HSOB)
Jed Brown (Burnside)
Brett Cameron* ( Lincoln University)
Hamish Dalzell (Lincoln University)
Mitchell Drummond (HSOB)
Mitchell Dunshea (Lincoln University)
Ereatara Enari (Lincoln University)
Braydon Ennor* (University)
Kaveinga Finau (Christchurch)
Ben Funnell (Hurunui)
Chris Gawler (Lincoln University)
Billy Harmon (New Brighton)
Alex Hodgman (Linwood)
Oliver Jager (New Brighton)
Daniel Lienert-Brown (HSOB)
Caleb Makene* (Lincoln University)
Josh McKay* (Lincoln University)
Richie Mo'unga (Linwood)
Jonno Osborne* (Lincoln University)
Reed Prinsep (HSOB)
Tom Sanders (Lincoln University)
Jack Straker* (Sydenham)
Jack Stratton (Lincoln University)
Marshall Suckling (Sumner)
Rob Thompson (Linwood)
Matt Todd (Christchurch)
Siate Tokolahi (Sydenham)
Nathan Vella (New Brighton)
Poasa Waqanibau (Sumner)
Luke Whitelock (University)
* denotes new player
Canterbury All Blacks:
Wyatt Crockett (Woodend)
Ryan Crotty (New Brighton)
Owen Franks (Linwood)
Joe Moody (Lincoln)
Luke Romano (HSOB)
Codie Taylor (Sydenham)
Sam Whitelock (Lincoln University)