There is still three months until the new competition is close to beginning, but the 2018 Super Rugby squads have all been announced. All five New Zealand franchises released their lists today, reflecting the men who will lead the sides on their journey towards [possibly] another Super Rugby title.
The Crusaders are only just recovering from the party that started in August, when they retook the mantle as ‘the best side in New Zealand’. Their provincial team has just claimed a third successive Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title–so they might have earned a good rest. But as Tom Coventry told Last Word on Rugby “it’s a professional game now. 12 months a year.”
So not only is winning the competition a goal, but the franchises have no start or finish line. Naming the 2018 Super Rugby Squads is one step on a path that carries on for the full calendar year.
Players can make a fulltime career out of the game, but so too can the professional administrations behind a successful Super Rugby side. Management, strength and conditioning and logistical–they all combine to build a squad that is broadcast months out from when the real challenge begins….February 23.
190 Players with 42 new recruits have been named in the 2018 Investec #SuperRugby squads today.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) November 1, 2017
2018 Super Rugby Squads Announced
190 names are included in the lists for all five franchises. The 2018 Super Rugby squads include returning stars, plus many new names. It is a reflection on the ‘production line’ of talent which is New Zealand Rugby.
The 42 new names may never have played Super Rugby, but they have been tested. The Mitre 10 Cup is the proving ground for head coaches across the five regions, to judge the successful men who are called on to represent their club.
That sees names from successful provincial teams shine. Those names are headed by Asafo Aumua (see main photo). The Under 20’s star, who has jumped over Super Rugby to already be named in the All Blacks squad. A huge accomplishment, his naming by the Hurricanes sits alongside 10 other new faces.
Some places need to be filled due to players leaving franchises, making space for promising talent, like Ethan Blackadder, Luke Jacobson, Tyrel Lomax (see below), Caleb Clarke, among others.
This replenishment is a natural occurrence, though some is at the expense of others. Much of the talent spread through the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership and Championship ranks, may still be awaiting that contract.
The success and failure of professional sports people is a challenge. Some players will have worked hard for two months for little or no reward. While all a part of your dream, for a limited few they can now have their ‘day in the sun’.
— Rugby Heaven (@NZRugbyHeaven) September 21, 2017
Stars Shine in Super Rugby; With Conditions
Each year, fresh young talent is sprinkled throughout the entire Super Rugby competition. Across South Africa, Australia and now Argentina, Japan and locally, in New Zealand. They shine brightly; and if fortunate, they develop and can make their mark.
And for some names announced today, they have already made that mark.
Some names are of All Blacks. The leading lights, often the faces of the competition. And players who seem to play the majority of matches–and need to be protected at it.
While squads are full with much emerging talent, undoubtedly they rely on stars to win matches, sell tickets, market the game and carry much of the weight of the franchise.
And importantly in 2018, the squads also represent conditions of the Collective Agreement. This is the document that the New Zealand Rugby Players Association have agreed terms with NZ Rugby, on player welfare–and for All Blacks on the November end of year tour, that includes a bargained rest period.
So the Super Rugby squads include names like Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read, yet those men have specific dates when they will be integrated into their franchises. It is to protect them, as much as to meeting the conditions that benefit the game as a whole.
Squads Named, Schedules Established and Training Dates Set
As fans and rugby commentators closely read the lists of names that each of the five New Zealand franchises have assembled, the breadth of talent is noticeable. The mix of brand new debutantes, some relatively inexperienced men from 2017 and the more established players.
The coaches have made the selections, so now those players will have schedules established; when to begin with the franchise, where to go, who to see and what to expect. Dates are loaded into calendars–today, more technology is used, like Whats App programs and email alerts.
And finally, the players can celebrate. Those who might be first time members of ‘the club’. The unique group who will start a journey towards the primary goal for all names listed….the 2018 Super Rugby title.
Click here for Blues squad
Click here for Chiefs squad
Click here for Hurricanes squad
Click here for Crusaders squad
Click here for Highlanders squad
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images