|Chiefs v Hurricanes||Hamilton||10-Mar||7:35 PM|
Damian McKenzie, Toni, Pulu, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-c), Mitchell Brown, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Hika Elliot, Kane Hames
Reserves: Sebastian Siataga, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Lachlan Boshier, Jonathan Taumateine, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson
Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (vc), Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Loni Uhila
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Ben May, James Blackwell, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett
|Brumbies v Force||Canberra||10-Mar||9:45 PM|
15 Aidan toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Ben Hyne, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander
Reserves: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Lolo Fakaosilea, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Andrew Smith
Dane Haylett-Petty, Chance Peni, Curtis Rona, Billy Meakes, Luke Morahan, Jono Lance, Ryan Louwrens, Richard Hardwick, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander, Matt Philip, Ross Haylett-Petty, Tetera Faulkner, Heath Tessman (c), Pek Cowan
Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Daley, Jermaine Ainsley, Onehunga Havili Kaufusi, Isi Naisarani, Michael Ruru, Ian Prior, Robbie Coleman
|Blues v Highlanders||Auckland||11-Mar||7:35 PM|
Pauliasi Manu, James Parsons (C), Charlie Faumuina, Jimmy Tupou, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jerome Kaino, Blake Gibson, Murphy Taramai; Augustine Pulu, Ihaia West, Rene Ranger, George Moala, Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Michael Collins
Reserves: Matt Moulds, Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Akira Ioane, Billy Guyton, Piers Francis, Melani Nanai
1 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2 Liam Coltman, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 4 Alex Ainley, 5 Tom Franklin, 6 Gareth Evans, 7 Elliot Dixon (c), 8 Luke Whitelock, 9 Aaron Smith, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 11 Tevita Li, 12 Rob Thompson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 14 Waisake Naholo, 15 Richard Buckman
Reserves: 16 Sekonia Pole, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Dillon Hunt, 22 Kayne Hammington, 23 Marty Banks
|Reds v Crusaders||Brisbane||11-Mar||9:45 PM|
Karmichael Hunt, Izaia Perese, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Eto Nabuli, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby, Scott Higginbotham, George Smith, Hendrik Tui, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Sam Talakai, Stephen Moore, James Slipper (c)
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Sef Fa’agase, Taniela Tupou, Kane Douglas, Adam Korczyk, James Tuttle, Jake McIntyre, Chris Kuridrani
Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Digby Ioane, Mitchell Hunt, Mitchell Drummond, Whetu Douglas, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Pete Samu, Sam Whitelock (c) Scott Barrett, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Tim Perry, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Bryn Hall, Marty McKenzie, George Bridge
|Kings v Stormers||Port Elizabeth||12-Mar||2:05 AM|
Masixole Banda, Makazole Mapimpi, Waylon Murray, Luzuko Vulindlu, Malcolm Jaer, Lionel Cronje, Ricky Schroeder, Ruaan Lerm, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete, Irne Herbst, Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Michael Willemse, Schalk Ferreira (c)
Reserves: Kurt Haupt, Schalk van der Merwe, Chris Heiberg, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Andisa Ntsila, Johan Steyn, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Berton Klaasen
SP Marais, Dillyn Leyds, EW Viljoen, Dan du Plessis, Bjorn Basson, Robert du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Rynhardt Elstadt, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble
Reserves: Ramone Samuels, JC Janse van Rensburg, Wilco Louw, Chris van Zyl, Jaco Coetzee, Justin Phillips, Kurt Coleman, Damian Willemse
|Cheetahs v Sunwolves||Bloemfontein||12-Mar||4:15 AM|
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Zee Mkhabela, 13 Rayno Benjamin, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais
Reserves: 16 Danie Mienie, 17 Elandre Huggett, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ruan van Rensburg
15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 William Tupou, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Hela, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto
Reserves: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
|Sharks v Waratahs||Durban||12-Mar||6:30 AM|
15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (captain), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch
Andrew Kellaway, Reece Robinson, Israel Folau, Irae Simone, Rob Horne, Bryce Hegarty, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Jack Dempsey, David McDuling, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Hugh Roach, Paddy Ryan, David Lolohea, Senio Toleafoa, Maclean Jones, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Cameron Clark
|Jaguares v Lions||Buenos Aires||12-Mar||8:40 AM|
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta
Reserves: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Reserves: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Louren Erasmus, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Andries Coetzee, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
|Force v Reds||Perth||2-Mar||11:30 PM|
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann (captain), 1 Ben Daley
Reserves: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Isi Naisarani, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Alex Newsome
1 James Slipper (C), 2 Stephen Moore, 3 Sam Talakai, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Kane Douglas, 6 Adam Korczyk, 7 George Smith, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 9 Nick Frisby, 10 Quade Cooper, 11 Eto Nabuli, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 13 Samu Kerevi, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 15 Karmichael Hunt
Reserves: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Izaia Perese
|Chiefs v Blues||Hamilton||3-Mar||7:35 PM|
Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Johnny Faauli, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Michael Leitch, Lachlan Boshier, Liam Messam , Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Hika Elliot, Kane Hames
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Tom Sanders, Jonathan Taumateine, Toni Pulu, Shaun Stevenson
Pauliasi Manu, Matt Moulds, Sione Mafileo, Jimmy Tupou (C), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Steven Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane; Augustine Pulu, Ihaia West, Melani Nanai, Piers Francis, Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie, Michael Collins.
Reserves: Hame Faiva, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jerome Kaino, Billy Guyton, George Moala, Rene Ranger
|Hurricanes v Rebels||Wellington||4-Mar||5:15 PM|
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Chris Eves
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Jordie Barrett
Jack Debreczeni, Marika Koroibete, Mitch Inman, Reece Hodge, Tom English, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Nic Stirzaker (capt), Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga'a, Jordy Reid, Lopeti Timani, Steve Cummins, Laurie Weeks, James Hanson, Cruze Ah-Nau
Reserves: Pat Leafa, Tom Moloney, Tyrel Lomax, Culum Retallick, Jake Schatz, Ben Meehan, Sione Tuipulotu, Ben Volavola
|Highlanders v Crusaders||Dunedin||4-Mar||7:35 PM|
1 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2 Liam Coltman, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 4 Alex Ainley, 5 Tom Franklin, 6 Elliot Dixon (c), 7 James Lentjes, 8 Liam Squire, 9 Aaron Smith, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 11 Tevita Li, 12 Rob Thompson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 14 Waisake Naholo, 15 Richard Buckman
Reserves: 16 Adrian Smith, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Patrick Osborne
1 Joe Moody, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (vc), 8 Whetu Douglas, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Ryan Crotty (vc), 13 Jack Goodhue, 14 Israel Dagg, 15 David Havili
Reserves: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 George Bridge
|Brumbies v Sharks||Canberra||4-Mar||9:45 PM|
Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jordan Smiler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (capt), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Nic Mayhew
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Ben Alexander, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Tom Staniforth, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Andrew Smith, Isaac Thompson
15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (captain), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch
|Sunwloves v Kings||Singapore||4-Mar||11:55 PM|
15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Masataka Mikami
Reserves: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Will Tupou, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
15 Masixole Banda, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain)
Reserves: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu
|Lions v Waratahs||Johannesburg||5-Mar||2:05 AM|
Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (capt), Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen
Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Lourens Erasmus, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Sylvian Mahuza, Jaco van der Walt
Andrew Kellaway, Reece Robinson, Israel Folau, Irae Simone, Rob Horne, Bryce Hegarty, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (capt), Jack Dempsey, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Hugh Roach, Paddy Ryan, David Lolohea, David McDuling, Senio Toleafoa, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Taqele Naiyaravoro
|Stormers v Jaguares||Cape Town||5-Mar||4:15 AM|
SP Marais, Cheslin Kolbe, EW Viljoen, Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Jano Vermaak, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siya Kolisi (captain), Rynhardt Elstadt, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, JC Janse van Rensburg
Reserves: Ramone Samuels, Oli Kebble, Frans Malherbe, Chris van Zyl, Nizaam Carr, Dewaldt Duvenage, Robert du Preez, Seabelo Senatla
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Santiago García Botta
Reserves: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Benjamín Macome, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Matías Moroni
|Cheetahs v Bulls||Bloemfontein||5-Mar||6:30 AM|
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Ox Nche
Reserves: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Danie Mienie, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ruan van Rensburg
15.Jesse Kriel , 14.Travis Ismaiel, 13.Burger Odendaal, 12.Dries Swanepoel,11. Jamba Ulengo, 10.Handré Pollard©, 9.Rudy Paige, 8.Hanro Liebenberg, 7.Jacques Potgieter, 6.Nick de Jager, 5.RG Snyman, 4.JasonJenkins, 3.Trevor Nyakane, 2.Jaco Visagie, 1.Lizo Gqoboka
Reserves: 16.Edgar Marutlulle, 17.Pierre Schoeman, 18.Jacobie Adriaanse, 19.Renaldo Bothma, 20.Ruan Steenkamp, 21.Piet van Zyl, 22.TianSchoeman, 23.Warrick Gelant
Year 23. Another new chapter. Another minor clean out of the playing roster. Another new coach (although to change it up we’re also keeping the old coach). Another year of pundits predicting another rollercoaster season ending in yet more disappointment, and they’ll most likely be right. The most important thing for this team, this club, is to start the season with wins. That will be nigh-on impossible as the Warriors never win in the early rounds but nevertheless - just win baby.
That winning begins next Sunday when the Warriors face the broke Newcastle Knights, who are probably travelling to NZ in a large container aboard a flag-of-convenience ship just to save money.
Kia ora: Kieran Foran (Eels)
Ka kite ano: Thomas Leuluai (Wigan), Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Bulldogs), Shaun Lane (Manly), Jonathan Wright (Manly), Jeff Robson (Eels), Ali Lauititi (retired), Ben Henry (retired)
Incumbent: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Challengers: David Fusitua, Tui Lolohea
Despite a knee injury keeping Roger Tuivasa-Sheck out for most of the 2016 season, Roger the Dodger will return not only as the starter but as captain too. The new role means he gets to argue with the refs and do all the media/promotional work while vice-captain Simon Mannering leads the team.
David Fusitua will be the back-up fullback after his break-out season last year in the absence of RTS. Tui Lolohea had moments of brilliance at fullback last season as well, but also moments of awfulness. Will need to work on his courage under the high-ball and when facing pressure from rushing defenders.
Incumbents: Tui Lolohea, Manu Vatuvei
Challengers: David Fusitua, Ken Maumalo
Both wing positions are up for grabs in 2017. Manu Vatuvei has been a club favourite for more than a decade now, but last year was a struggle and Stephen Kearney wasn’t afraid to tell regulars in the Kiwis squad that they were out of the loop. Tui Lolohea is a utility by name but appears to be best suited on the wing, especially when paired with Blake Ayshford. A place in this side will be needed for David Fusitua and wing is his next best position if he can’t play fullback. Ken Maumalo is the only other serious option for Kearney but it is well known that Big Ken wants guaranteed playing time. I predict a mid-season move for him if there are zero injuries.
Incumbents: Solomone Kata, Blake Ayshford
Challengers: Tui Lolohea, David Fusitua, Ken Maumalo, Matt Allwood, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Solomone Kata went from a much-maligned player in 2015 to a superstar in 2016. Kata worked hard on his defensive game and was explosive on attack, so expect his progression to continue. Blake Ayshford may not be the flashiest name on this list but he provides a veteran presence and, more importantly, had excellent chemistry with Tui Lolohea who is expected to be on the wing again. David Fusitua is projected by most NRL pundits to be starting at centre for round one - but only if there isn’t a wing spot available. Ken Maumalo, depsite having serious defensive flaws, will contend for the centre position too while Matt Allwood will spend most of his season in the NSW Cup. Utility Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad did make the 2016 NSW Cup Team of the Year as a centre and could be in with a chance if others struggle.
Challengers: Kieran Foran, Ata Hingano, Tui Lolohea
It was the risky move of the off-season but could be a steal of a deal for the Warriors. With Thomas Leuluai returning to SuperLeague to conclude his career, the Warriors signed the at-the-time-unregistered Kieran Foran. Foran had a worse 2016 than the United States of America with a bombed relationship, gambling issues, dodgy friendships and mental illness that resulted in an attempted suicide. Even if Foran struggles on the field - he is allowed to return to the NRL in round three - this one-year contract will still be a success if the Warriors can get Foran’s off-the-field issues sorted out. That will be a struggle early on, as it seems the Sydney media have been given orders to gun for Foran. Highly touted prospect Ata Hingano will start the first two games of the season, if the pre-season is anything to go by, while Tui Lolohea’s dream of starting in the halves appears to have ended.
Incumbent: Shaun Johnson
Challengers: Kieran Foran, Nathaniel Roache, Ata Hingano, Tui Lolohea, Mason Lino
Can Shaun Johnson progress as a halfback or is this it? Is this as good as he can be? If that is the case it might be time to try SJ in the second-receiver role and move Kieran Foran into halfback though I doubt we’ll see that happen. Nathaniel Roache, Ata Hingano, Tui Lolohea and Mason Lino all provide depth.
Incumbent: Simon Mannering
Challengers: Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete, Toafofoa Sipley, Charlie Gubb, Ligi Sao, Jazz Tevaga
Simon Mannering was superb at lock last season, finishing second in tackles with 1042 (Jake Friend was first with 1279). But Stephen Kearney has traditionally played Mannering in the secondrow for the Kiwis, where he can shut down either the left or right edge, while opting for a wrecking ball at the back of the pack. Albert Vete, Toafofoa Sipley, Charlie Gubb or Ligi Sao fit that description and it should be expected that Kearney will try this at some point in the season. If Mannering plays in the secondrow, Bodene Thompson could move to the 13 jersey allowing him to work more closely with SJ since the two make a productive attacking tandem. Jazz Tevaga is an old school hooker/lock player who will provide cover for the lock position off the bench.
Incumbents: Ryan Hoffman, Bodene Thompson
Challengers: Simon Mannering, Ligi Sao, Bunty Afoa, Toafofoa Sipley, Jazz Tevaga
Ryan Hoffman has been stripped of the captaincy and, with Tohu Harris coming to Mt Smart in 2018, is playing for his career. If healthy, expect the Hoff to be one of the Warriors’ best players this season. In his two years at the club, Bodene Thompson has followed the same trend - strong start to the season both offensively and defensively, only to fade once July rolls around. If Bodene wants to make the Kiwis World Cup squad, he’ll need to maintain his performance for the whole season. Simon Mannering will be wearing a jersey with either 11, 12 or 13 on the back while Ligi Sao will be hoping to get any number on his back. Bunty Afoa is the only other genuine secondrower on the roster and should see a couple of games this season while Toafofoa Sipley, who had a promising debut against St George last year, is yet another prop who could see time in the backrow due to the long queue in the frontrow. Hooker Jazz Tevaga started his young career in the secondrow and could earn some gametime there as well.
Incumbents: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman
Challengers: Charlie Gubb, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, James Gavet, Toafofoa Sipley, Isaiah Papalii
When it comes to the frontrow the Warriors have the quantity but do they actually have the quality? Over recent seasons there has been serious questions about the defensive attitude of the whole team with the edge defence taking a lot of flack. The edge defence improved last year, largely to the improvements of players like Solomone Kata and David Fusitua, but the problem still existed in the middle. The Warriors big men struggled to make simple tackles and could not get any go-forward with the ball. Rugby league is a simple sport where dominating the middle of the field will give your team huge momentum over the 80 minutes - YUUUGGGEE. Despite having elite props in Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman, the rest of the bunch have been mediocre at best. Charlie Gubb offers energy but lacks talent, Sam Lisone offers aggression but lacks smarts, Albert Vete offers smarts but lacks aggression, James Gavet is still - at the age of 27 - a diamond in the rough, while Toafofoa Sipley and Isaiah Papalii are both greener than Kermit the Frog. If Kearney gets the best out of the big boppers, and figures out a good rotation, the Warriors will be in the playoffs. If not, the Warriors will miss the big dance yet again.
Incumbent: Isaac Luke
Challengers: Nathaniel Roache, Jazz Tevaga, Erin Clark
Speaking of the struggles up front, Isaac Luke didn’t help the cause by being a little fat Maori last year. He appears to be in shape this preseason and an energetic Luke is vital to the Warriors controlling momentum in a game. Nathaniel Roache grew more confident with every game last season (he played seven) but Jazz Tevaga will be Luke’s backup due to his tenacious defending and strong dummyhalf running (although Jazz’s passing skills need to be upgraded quickly). Erin Clark will star for the NSW Cup team in 2017.
Sneakdefreak’s best 17:
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck © 2. Tui Lolohea 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. David Fusitua 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Simon Mannering 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Bodene Thompson
Bench: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Sam Lisone 16. Albert Vete 17. Toafofoa Sipley 18th man: James Gavet
Rebels v Blues
Melbourne 23-Feb 9:45 PM
1 Cruze Ah-Nau, 2 Pat Leafa, 3 Laurie Weeks, 4 Steve Cummins, 5 Lopeti Timani, 6 Jordy Reid, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 13 Mitch Inman, 14 Jack Maddocks, 15 Jack Debreczeni
Reserves: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Jonah Placid
Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Piers Francis, Melani Nanai, Ihaia West, Augustine Pulu; Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Jimmu Tupou (capt), Sione Mafileo, Matt Moulds, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Hame Faiva, Sam Prattley, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Scrafton, Murphy Taramai, Sam Nock, George Moala, Rene Ranger
Highlanders v Chiefs
Dunedin 24 Feb 7:35 PM
Ben Smith (c), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown
Reserves: Adrian Smith, Craig Millar, Guy Millar, Jackson Hemopo, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes
Damian McKenzie, Toni Pulu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Johnny Faauli, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Liam Messam, Mitchell Karpik, Taleni Seu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Hika Elliot, Kane Hames
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier, Jonathan Taumateine, Tim Nanai-Williams, Shaun Stevenson
Reds v Sharks
Brisbane 24 Feb 10:00 PM
15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Adam Korczyk, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Reserves: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Izaia Perese
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie (captain), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claasens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Clement Poitrenaud
Sunwolves v Hurricanes
Tokyo 25 Feb 5:15 PM
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hikaru Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Edward Quirk, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami
Reserves: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Shota Emi
Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Otere Black, TJ Perenara (c), Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, James Blackwell, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves
Reserves: Dane Coles, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Reed Prinsep, Callum Gibbins, Chris Smylie, Beauden Barrett, Vince Aso
Crusaders v Brumbies
Christchurch 25 Feb 7:35 PM
1 Nic Mayhew, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Rory Arnold, 5 Sam Carter, 6 Scott Fardy, 7 Chris Alcock, 8 Jordan Smiler
9 Joe Powell, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 11 James Dargaville, 12 Kyle Godwin, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 14 Henry Speight, 15 Aidan Toua
Reserves: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Isaac Thompson
1 Joe Moody, 2 Ben Funnell, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (vc), 8 Whetu Douglas, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 11 George Bridge, 12 Ryan Crotty (vc), 13 Jack Goodhue, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 15 Israel Dagg
Reserves: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Ereatari Enari, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 David Havili
Waratahs v Force
Sydney 25 Feb 9:45 PM
15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Reserves: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann (c), 1 Pek Cowan
Reserves: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Isireli Naisarani, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Alex Newsome
Cheetahs v Lions
Bloemfontein 26 Feb 2:05 AM
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Charles Marais
Reserves: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Ox Nche, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ryno Benjamin
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Reserves: 16 Akker vd Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Jaco van der Walt
Kings v Jaguares
Port Elizabeth 26 Feb 4:15 AM
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (c)
Reserves: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Chris Heiberg, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole ‘Coyi’ Banda, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Reserves: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano
Stormers v Bulls
Cape Town 26 Feb 6:30 AM
15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vc), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Reserves: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Rob du Preez
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Handre Pollard(c), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Reserves: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant
It's that time of the year again. I know you've all been waiting for it!!
The 12th (Usually*) Annual The Silver Fern Dot Com Team of the Year !!
Nomination threads are set up in the TSF Competitions Forum http://www.thesilverfern.com/category/8/tsf-competitions coz I don't know where the Team of the Year forum went.
Rules are pretty much the same as usual:
Nominate players by position. Include your reasons for doing so. Only in the odd minority of cases will nominations be accepted without supporting argument (i.e., Beauden Barrett).
This is your opportunity to argue against other nominations as well. Feel free to pile in.
Nominated players must have played at least one test match this year. Regardless of that form in competitions below international level is still admissible as evidence in support of a nominee.
The Judging Committee (me) reserves the right to accept, reject or laugh hysterically at any or all nominations.
Any situation not covered by the above rules will be dealt with by making up further rules on the spot.
A full* list of TSF ToTYs since 2005 follows (edit: in a later post ... this one takes up too much room).
- except for 2014 which inexplicably I did not summarise and publish. D'oh.