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Chiefs CEO Michael Collins speaks about Warren Gatland’s coaching team for 2020.
Promising backs Kini Naholo and Quinn Tupaea headline nine rookies the Chiefs have signed up for their 2020 Super Rugby squad after already confirming the return of veteran playmaker and former captain Aaron Cruden.
Former All Black Cruden, who is contracted for next season before joining the Kobelco Steelers in Japan, was the biggest addition the Chiefs named in their 39-man group announced on Tuesday night, though the 50-test first five-eighth’s return from France was known afterStuffrevealed it in September.
Almost a quarter of their squad will be on full-time Super Rugby contracts for the first time when coach Warren Gatland returns home after spending 12 years in the UK in roles with Wales and the British and Irish Lions.
Seven of those nine rookies are yet to make their Super Rugby debuts, while lock Laghlan McWhannell and prop Reuben O’Neill are still uncapped after being part of the squad last season, so there is a shortage of experience outside a solid core that includes plenty of test know-how with the All Blacks.
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But Super Rugby is fast becoming a young man’s competition as older players head offshore for greater riches sooner and the Chiefs have secured the talents of Naholo, the younger brother of former All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo, from Taranaki and star Waikato centre Tupaea, who was unlucky to be omitted from the last squad.
Tupaea, in particular, is one of the most exciting prospects in the game and the New Zealand under-20s representative has been outstandi
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