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Beauden Barrett speaks to media after arriving back in New Zealand from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
We break down the five New Zealand Super Rugby squads announced on Tuesday for the 2020 season:
The mid-season arrival of All Blacks star Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane’s move to the midfield were the major talking points of the Blues squad.
While the likes of high-profile trio Sonny Bill Williams, Ma’a Nonu and Melani Nanai have departed, the bulk of the 2019 squad are returning (26 in total) for coach Leon MacDonald’s second season at the helm.
Tasman’s Finlay Christie returns to the Auckland region at halfback as do hookers Kurt Eklund (Bay of Plenty) and Samoan international Ray Niuia (Tasman), with the Blues keen to add some more experience behind veteran James Parsons.
* Barrett to captain Crusaders
* Highlanders sign Tongan hitman
* Canes sign South African back
* Barrett set for Blues era
* Chiefs snap up Naholo
Locks James Tucker (Waikato) and Baden Wardlaw (Bay of Plenty) have been rewarded for their respective Mitre 10 Cup campaigns, while New Zealand under-20 rep Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (Auckland) and USA international Tony Lamborn bolster the back-row options led by Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii and Tom Robinson.
Forwards:Kurt Eklund, Ray Niuia, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Patrick Tuipulotu, Baden Wardlaw, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Dalton Papalii, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, James Tucker.Backs:Finlay Christie, Sam Nock, Jonathan Ruru, Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Jack Heighton, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Joe Marchant, Tanielu Tele’a, Caleb Clarke, Matt Duffie, Jordan Hyland, Emoni Narawa, Jared Page, Mark Telea.
Promising backs Kini Naholo and Quinn Tupaea headline nine rookies the Chiefs have signed up for new coach Warren Gatland’s return to Hamilton after already confirming the return of veteran playmaker and former captain Aaron Cruden.
Naholo, the younger brother of former All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo, was secured from Taranaki while star Waikato centre Tupaea was unlucky to be omitted from the last squad.
The other new faces are Wellington lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Otago No 8 Dylan Nel, Taranaki halfback Lisati Milo-Harris and Bay of Plenty first-five Kaleb Trask.
The Chiefs’ biggest loss is All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, who has left for a play
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