Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has selected an experienced and talented squad for Investec Super Rugby in 2017.
It will be Rennie’s last year at the helm of the Chiefs, capping off a coaching career that has seen the side never-fail to make the playoffs, and won the Southern Hemisphere rugby competition twice.
With an All Blacks coaching position off the cards, Rennie (pictured) will travel overseas to coach Glasgow after next years Super Rugby season. The news didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, Rennie had always said he wanted to coach abroad at some point.
Rennie was kept ‘in the loop’ by New Zealand Rugby as he decided what his future would be, but he was told that a head coaching position was simply ‘off the cards’. Rennie is arguably the best coach in New Zealand after Steve Hansen, but he also a man of his word, and he wants a greater challenge and is comfortable in the knowledge that there is little more he can give back to the Chiefs.
“Steve has done a great job so why wouldn’t NZ Rugby re-sign him. Glasgow approached me and I considered the role. but it wasn’t until my wife and I traveled over there to have a look, that we made the decision.”
The only thing left for Rennie is to win that elusive third title in Super Rugby, and he has named another squad that is capable of doing so.
Chiefs Name Their Most Experienced Squad
31-players return from the 2016 squad, including breakout stars Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown (main picture). Veterans including Liam Messam and Tim Nanai Williams have committed to the Chiefs for another season. In total, the pair alone give over 200 Chiefs-caps worth of experience.
Stephen Donald will also join the squad in 2017, but it will be his mentoring role off the field that will take priority–expect McKenzie and Sam McNichol to be first-five options.
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) November 1, 2016
NZ-born loose-forward, and current Japan captain Michael Leitch returns to the Chiefs for his third season at the club to compliment the loose forward stocks.
Six Rookies Earn Selection For Top Grade
Rennie has selected five new faces for 2017. After impressing in the Chiefs’ development program, Sosefo Kautai and Liam Polwart have been selected for the top grade. With a successful season with Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup under his belt, the exciting Johnny Fa’auli will make his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs.
Fa’auli says he is wrapped to have received the call up from Rennie;
“Playing Super Rugby was a big goal of mine so to be included in the Chiefs squad is one step closer to me achieving that. I learn’t a lot with Taranaki this year, and I’m looking forward to building on that and learning from some quality coaches.”
Despite numerous media reports, Aaron Cruden (pictured) has signed his name and will play for the Chiefs for another season. The first five has title-winning experience and a close relationship with Rennie. His leadership in the team is also a factor, and Cruden will likely be the co-captain once again next year.
The Chiefs will begin their pre season camp on December 3rd in Hamilton. After the Christmas break, the first of the trial games will occur, before the regular season begins in Dunedin with a clash against the Highlanders on February 24.
The full Chiefs squad for the Super Rugby in 2017:
- Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
- Atu Moli (Waikato)
- Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (Bay of Plenty)
- Mitchell Graham (Taranaki)
- Kane Hames (Tasman)
- Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)
- Hika Elliot (Counties Manukau)
- Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)
- Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)
- Brodie Retallick (Hawkes Bay)
- Dominic Bird (Canterbury)
- Michael Allardice (Hawkes Bay)
- James Tucker (Waikato)
- Taleni Seu (Auckland)
- Liam Messam (Toshiba)
- Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
- Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
- Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
- Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)
- Tom Sanders (Canterbury)
- Michael Leitch (Toshiba)
- Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato)
- Brad Weber (Hawkes Bay)
- Finlay Christie (Tasman)
FIRST FIVE EIGHTH:
- Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
- Stephen Donald (Waikato)
- Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki)
- Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
- Johnny Fa’auli (Taranaki)
- Tim Nanai-Williams (Ricoh)
- Solomon Alaimalo (Northland)
- Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
- Sam McNicol (Hawkes Bay)
- James Lowe (Tasman)
- Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty)
- Toni Pulu (Counties Manukau)
- Glen Fisiiahi (Counties Manukau)
- Shaun Stevenson (Waikato)