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TEAM NAMING: New era dawning for the Chiefs

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Other contributors from recent years like: Mitchell Graham, Dominic Bird, Sam McNichol and Tony Pulu, are also missing, yet such is the exposure Chiefs players have had as a result of injuries during recent campaigns, there is still a core of experience and excitement in the squad named.

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Up front the side should be well served with prop Kane Hames back in action with Nepo Laulala in the front row, following their long absences due to injury.

Prop Reuben O'Neill is also a link to the longer term future after his earlier play with the Chiefs development side, but also with Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup where he was regarded as their forward of the year. He has also had exposure to the Crusaders' system, having been a short-term injury replacement, and was included in the end of year All Blacks' party to Japan.

The lineout stocks also look to have depth with Brodie Retallick and Michael Allardice joined again by Finn Hoeata and young lock from last season's Chiefs Development squad, New Zealand Under-20s representative Laghlan McWhannell. He made his Waikato Mitre 10 debut in 2017.

Potential in the loose forwards is as good, if not better, than the other New Zealand franchises with an extra year of experience behind some of the younger players introduced last season.

Supplementing first five-eighths options Damian McKenzie and Tiaan Falcon will be former 51-game Rebels player, Auckland-born Jack Debreczeni who had such a good Mitre 10 Cup season with Northland. The shift to New Zealand has worked out well for him.

Another potential eye-catcher in the backline will be Tongan Ataata Moeakiola who made his mark with the Sunwolves and for Japan Under-20.

While well served at the back with Solomon Alaimalo and Shaun Stevenson each capable of playing wing or fullback, the Chiefs are also able to call on Etene Nanai-Seturo, who has shown his exciting potential on the international stage with the All Blacks' Sevens side.
In: Reuben O'Neill, Ataata Moeakiola, Jack Debreczeni, Tumua Manu, Laghlan McWhannell

Out: Mitchell Graham, Sam Prattley*, Karl Tu'inukuafe*, Dominic Bird, Liam Messam, Matt Matich*, Jesse Parete*, Luteru Laulala*, Johnny Fa'auli, Charlie Ngatai, Levi Aumua, Sam McNichol, Toni Pulu, Declan O'Donnell*, Tim Nanai-Williams.

Placing last year: Fifth (Played 16, won 11, lost five)

All Blacks: Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown.

Squad:

Kane Hames, Aidan Ross, Reuben O'Neill, Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta'avao, Atu Moli, Sosefo Kautai, Nathan Harris, Liam Polwart, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Finn Hoeata, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Laghlan McWhannell, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Teleni Seu, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Tyler Ardron, Brad Weber, Jonathan Taumateine, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Marty McKenzie, Baylin Sullivan, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Ataata Moeakiola, Jack Debreczeni, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Tumua Manu, Etene Nanai-Seturo.

* Short-term contract players
.