The future of Chiefs rugby is bright, with an exciting pool of talented rugby players named in the 2017 University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development squad today. The 2017 Development programme includes two games against the Blues Development team, the first taking place on Friday 3 March at FMG Stadium Waikato serving as curtain raiser to the Gallagher Chiefs vs Blues Investec Super Rugby match. The rematch takes place just two weeks later on Saturday 18 March at Pakuranga Rugby Football Club in Auckland.

The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team will also tour to Hong Kong under a high performance partnership formed between the Chiefs Rugby Club and the Hong Kong Rugby Union. The tour will be the third visit in as many years, giving players a great development opportunity and international touring experience including training and playing with the Hong Kong national squad.

Chiefs Player Identification and Development Manager Kent Currie said the University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development programme provided players with exceptional development opportunities.

“The 2017 University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team was selected by the Chiefs coaches in collaboration with the Mitre 10 Cup coaches from Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. It has been a real team effort across the Provincial Unions to provide hugely promising players from within Chiefs country with meaningful rugby development and an opportunity to perform at that next level in view of the Chiefs coaches.

“Taking part in this comprehensive programme allows players to experience the Chiefs style of rugby first-hand and provides us with an opportunity to assess players for the Gallagher Chiefs as potential replacement players for this season and for the future. The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development programme is hugely important for the continued development of rugby in the Chiefs region with the great support of the University of Waikato. We are very appreciative of their ongoing support and commitment to helping promising New Zealand athletes fulfil their potential on and off the rugby field,” said Currie.

The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development squad features an exciting mix of youth and experience. The squad includes players from across the Chiefs region, with representation from Provincial Unions Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.

The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development squad will be coached by the experienced trio of Leo Crowley, Andrew Douglas and Carl Hoeft.

The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development squad is:

Forwards:

Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Ayden Johnstone (Waikato)
Jordan Lay (Bay of Plenty)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)
Kalolo Tuiloma (Counties Manukau)
Joshua Iosefa-Scott (Waikato)
Sekope Moli (Waikato)
Samisoni Taukeo'aho (Waikato)
Sabastian Siataga (Bay Of Plenty)
Donald Maka (Taranaki)
Leva Fifita (Waikato)
Matiaha Martin (Counties Manukau)
Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)
Sam Caird (Waikato)
Otenili Moala (Waikato)
Viliame Rarasea (Counties Manukau)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
Mitch Jacobson (Waikato)
Jahrome Brown (Waikato)
Foti Lokotui (Counties Manukau)
Ta Hosea (Waikato)
Matthew Vaai (Counties Manukau)

Backs:

Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)
Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty)
Logan Crowley (Taranaki)
Harrison Levien (Waikato)
Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Joe Reynolds (Counties Manukau)
Beaudein Waaka (Taranaki)
Matthew Lansdown (Waikato)
Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau)
Lalakai Foketi (Bay of Plenty)
Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau)
Elijah Nicholas (Bay of Plenty)
Liam Steel (Bay of Plenty)
Latu Vaeno (Taranaki)
Josh Gordon (Waikato)
Sheldon Tovio (Waikato)
Sevu Reece (Waikato)
Regan Ware (Bay of Plenty)
Lolohea Loco (Counties Manukau)

Unavailable for selection: Leighton Price (Taranaki), Jacob Skeen (Waikato), Monty Ioane (Bay of Plenty), Iopu Iopu-Aso (Taranaki)

The 2017 University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development Management Team is:

Coach: Leo Crowley
Coach: Andrew Douglas
Coach: Carl Hoeft
Manager: Gareth Duncan
Trainer: Brad Mayo
Physio: Paul Smiler
Analyst: Mark Ray
Programme Manager: Kent Currie

“I feel like a 10-year-old kid again, I’m just really excited to lace up my boots and play some rugby.” – these words from Mitchell Karpik shared ahead of his Investec Super Rugby debut this Friday, aptly encapsulates the mood in camp two days out from the Gallagher Chiefs 2017 campaign opener against the Pulse Energy Highlanders in Dunedin.

Karpik, 21, is one of four exciting young players in line to make their Investec Super Rugby debut for the Gallagher Chiefs this weekend. He’s joined in the starting lineup by 21-year-old Taranaki livewire Johnny Faauli who will start his first game at second five-eighth, while 19-year-old Waikato hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and Counties Manukau halfback Jonathan Taumateine, 20, could earn their first caps off the bench. All Black prop Nepo Laulala will also don the Gallagher Chiefs jersey for the first time after diligently working his way back from a knee injury sustained in January 2016.

In addition to the four promising youngsters, Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has selected a vastly experienced and determined lineup to set the benchmark for the side’s 2017 campaign. The starting fifteen features ten players with All Blacks experience, interlaced with several gutsy high performers looking to make a statement come Friday.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Pulse Energy Highlanders at 7.35pm on Friday is:
1. Kane Hames (9)
2. Hika Elliot (104)
3. Nepo Laulala*
4. Dominic Bird (11)
5. Brodie Retallick (71)
6. Taleni Seu (18)
7. Mitchell Karpik**
8. Liam Messam (146)
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (67)
10. Aaron Cruden (captain) (73)
11. James Lowe (37)
12. Johnny Faauli**
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (24)
14. Toni Pulu (13)
15. Damian McKenzie (33)

RESERVES:

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho**
17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (11)
18. Atu Moli (11)
19. Mitchell Brown (3)
20. Lachlan Boshier (8)
21. Jonathan Taumateine**
22. Tim Nanai-Williams (77)
23. Shaun Stevenson (7)

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Investec Super Rugby debut

Unavailable for selection: Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Fin Hoeata, Nathan Harris, James Tucker, Glen Fisiiahi, Chase Tiatia, Michael Allardice, Charlie Ngatai, Sam McNicol, Liam Polwart, Sam Cane.

The Gallagher Chiefs take on the Blues next Friday the 3rd of March in their first home game of 2017. Tickets to this thrilling local derby are available now from ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 4 CHIEFS.

The Chiefs Rugby Club warmly congratulates Kieran Keane on his appointment as Head Coach of Connacht Rugby in Ireland. The current Gallagher Chiefs assistant coach will depart New Zealand at the conclusion of the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season to take up his new post. Kieran has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand rugby over many years and is highly respected by the many players he’s coached and staff who have had the privilege to work alongside him.

Kieran Keane reflected on his illustrious coaching career and the opportunity to be involved with Connacht Rugby.  

 “Everyone has to weigh up their future in this game and coaches are no exception. When one door closes another door opens. I have aspirations to return to head coaching and Connacht have afforded me the opportunity to realise this aspiration. Connacht is a good fit for me as they have ambition and I like the passion of the community and the warmth of the people. My time in New Zealand rugby is done after 36 consecutive years of coaching at all levels which I am proud of. It has been stimulating and rewarding and I have made some wonderful friends and colleagues throughout this time, I am so much richer for having made their acquaintance” said Keane.

Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said: “I have had a long association with Kieran and I have a deep respect for him both as a person and as a rugby coach. It is bittersweet to be farewelling him at the conclusion of our 2017 campaign; we lose a very talented rugby coach but the opportunity to Head Coach at a club like Connacht is a wonderful career opportunity for Kieran. Being the competitor that he is I know that he will want to leave the New Zealand scene on a high note with the Gallagher Chiefs this year.”      

Congratulations and best wishes KK from all your Chiefs whanau.

It is not time to say goodbye just yet as we’ve got business to take care of. Bring on the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season!

Hard-work, X factor and excellence - three traits shared by First Windows & Doors and their new brand ambassador Damian McKenzie. The newly formed partnership between these two high performers coincides with the announcement that First Windows & Doors have renewed their commitment as a Major Sponsor of the Gallagher Chiefs for a further three years.

Their support will be evident on field, with the First Windows & Doors brand taking pride of place on the lower back of the Gallagher Chiefs playing jersey.

Gallagher Chiefs dynamo Damian McKenzie said:

“It’s really exciting to be teaming up with First Windows & Doors as their brand ambassador. To have this opportunity to get involved on a personal level with a hard-working New Zealand company who do a lot of great work in the community is awesome and I look forward to working with them. Thank you to the great team at First Windows & Doors for their outstanding support of me and the Gallagher Chiefs team.”

Craig Vincent, APL CEO said: “We feel this is a great fit for our First Windows & Doors brand as we see Damian and the Gallagher Chiefs as those who share our values of hard work and giving back to the community. We wish them all the best for the upcoming Investec Super Rugby season and we’re excited to be there supporting them as they work towards another Championship title.”

With over 25 years in the marketplace, First Windows & Doors has become one of the leading brands for parent company APL, who are New Zealand’s largest supplier of window systems. APL are based in Hamilton where they maintain a major design, production and warehousing facility developing, extruding, surface finishing and distributing profiles to over 70 manufacturers around the country. 

Make sure you check out the First Windows & Doors website! http://www.firstwindows.co.nz