Blues 2016 squad



  • Hookers: James Parsons (North Harbour), Matt Moulds (Northland), Quentin MacDonald (Tasman)
    Props: Nic Mayhew (North Harbour), Sam Prattley (Auckland), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland), Sione Mafileo (North Harbour), Namatahi Waa (Northland).
    Locks: Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland), Gerrard Tuioti-Mariner (North Harbour), Hoani Matenga (Wellington), Josh Bekhuis (Southland), Scott Scrafton (Auckland).
    Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Blake Gibson (Auckland), Kara Pryor (Northland), Jack Ram (Northland), Steven Luatua (Auckland), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Joe Edwards (Auckland).
    Backs
    Halfbacks: Bryn Hall (North Harbour), Sam Nock (Northland), Billy Guyton (Tasman).
    Inside backs: Ihaia West (Hawkes Bay) Matt McGahan (North Harbour), Dan Bowden (Northland), Piers Francis (Counties Manukau).
    Midfield: George Moala (Auckland), Rene Ranger (North Harbour), Rieko Ioane (Auckland), TJ Faiane (Auckland), Michael Little (North Harbour).
    Outside backs: Tevita Li (North Harbour), Ben Lam (Auckland), Melani Nanai (Auckland), Lolagi Visinia (Auckland), Matt Duffie (North Harbour), Jordan Trainor (Waikato).



  • Is this the most Northland players in any squad?
     
    Edit: ...in any BLUES squad ever?
     
    Lots of names I don't know, but I haven't been watching much ITM or junior rugby to be fair.



  • I would say yes....



  • anyone want a crack at a first XV?
     
    First XVs (or 23s) won't get you to a final, squads do that, but they are an indication of finals strength



  • Looking at the squad, it seems that lock, 7, 9, and 15 will be the contentious positions.
    My guess at a first XV:

    1. Mayhew/Tu’ungafasi
    2. Parsons
    3. Faumaina
    4. Tuipulotu
    5. Scrafton
    6. Kaino
    7. Gibson/Ram
    8. A. Ioane
    9. Hall
    10. West
    11. Li
    12. Moala
    13. Ranger
    14. Nanai
    15. Visinia


  • Maybe you will see Steven Luatua played at his U20 position of lock.



  • TBH I am suprised that no one convinced Steven Luatua to leave the Blues. Abundance of riches at loose forward in the Blues squad. Lucky Blackadder is in charge of the Crusaders and not Deans otherwise you would be facing 8. Read, 6. Luatua, 7. Matt Todd this season.



  • Really hope Visinia comes on next year! We need a fullback.



  • yeah bit annoying to see some promising Auckland forwards get picked up by other franchises but I'm really pleased to see much less 'dead weight' in this team and a lot of youngsters - I reckon its the right way to go for Tana. For 2016 people shouldn't expect miracles but if he can develop some of this young talent things could be looking up.
     
    Also nice to see some backs with some guile in the squad (Faiane, Little, Trainor)



  • Yeah, the only real dead weight players are Prattley, Bekhuis, and Francis. I wonder if Bowden will get on the park?



  • Yeah, the only real dead weight players are Prattley, Bekhuis, and Francis. I wonder if Bowden will get on the park?

    Am hoping he and Nock get a chance to form a great combo 🙂



  • What's the news on his injury? Is he going to be fully fit for the pre-season? His fitness was my concern in my post above.



  • Bowden? He was hopeful of playing for us, but think he ended up needing surgery to be ready for S15



  • It must be a reflection of the relative weakness of the Blues squad that Northland have such a poor year yet pick up so many contracts. Or maybe it's a reflection that someone from outside of the Auckland old boys network is now in charge and can see there are talented players around that don't necessarily run around in blue and white hoops.
     
     
     
     
     
    Probably a combination of both.



  • It must be a reflection of the relative weakness of the Blues squad that Northland have such a poor year yet pick up so many contracts. Or maybe it's a reflection that someone from outside of the Auckland old boys network is now in charge and can see there are talented players around that don't necessarily run around in blue and white hoops.

    One thing JK really focussed on was talent development inside the region.  This could be the result of that - multiple young players coming through.  Would be great if that was his legacy ...



  • Really, Pulu should have been given to the Blues for this year. 
     
    I thought the Ioane brothers were playing 7s next year?



  • Really, Pulu should have been given to the Blues for this year. 
     
    I thought the Ioane brothers were playing 7s next year?

    It is my understanding that aside from those players who are committed to 7s right the way through (SBW and Messam), the others that were named in that squad that are Super Rugby related will be playing 4 tournaments in the World Sevens Series but will still be eligible for rounds 1 to 10 of Super Rugby. Replacement players will then be brought in to cover these players (e.g. Ioanes and Ben Lam if he makes it).



  • It is my understanding that aside from those players who are committed to 7s right the way through (SBW and Messam), the others that were named in that squad that are Super Rugby related will be playing 4 tournaments in the World Sevens Series but will still be eligible for rounds 1 to 10 of Super Rugby. Replacement players will then be brought in to cover these players (e.g. Ioanes and Ben Lam if he makes it).

    The story I heard was that all of the initial "Tier 1" Sevens squad will miss most of the season, while the "Tier 2" players (which includes Pulu) will be available for half the season.
     
    Who knows though. A couple of months ago it was reported that Titch could only have 2 players per Super squad but that's obviously not true, so either things changed or the media might just be guessing (maybe even both).



    1. Ofa T
    2. Parsons
    3. Faumuina
    4. Tuipulotu
    5. Luatua
    6. Kaino
    7. Gibson
    8. Ioane
    9. Hall
    10. West
    11. Lam
    12. Moala
    13. Ranger
    14. Nanai
    15. Visinia
       
      Could be another hard season coming up.


    1. Ofa T
    2. Parsons
    3. Faumuina
    4. Tuipulotu
    5. Luatua
    6. Kaino
    7. Gibson
    8. Ioane
    9. Hall
    10. West
    11. Lam
    12. Moala
    13. Ranger
    14. Nanai
    15. Visinia
       
      Could be another hard season coming up.

    Man that would be a mediocre lineout. The opposition would be able to rely on perfect set-piece ball with Luatua and Tuipulotu jumping against them.



  • Anyway, if 2016 had the same format as 2015, then I would expect use to finish between 8th and 11th.



  • yeah not an inspiring squad at all 😞 hey maybe that will mean we may win a fair few for a change....



  • Anyway, if 2016 had the same format as 2015, then I would expect use to finish between 8th and 11th.

    An improvement on 14th of 15.



  • yeah not an inspiring squad at all 😞 hey maybe that will mean we may win a fair few for a change....

    Yeah, all the NZ squads are stronger, and you'd expect the Brumbies, Waratahs, and one or two SA teams to finish higher than them.



  • I notice that Matenga and Tuoti-Mariner were 4th and 6th respectively in ITM Cup lineout takes. Could be handy.





  • Quite a good article on stuff about the team too.
     
    It seems to confirm my thoughts on the Round 1 to 10 availability for the 7s guys.
     
    If Ranger is eased into things early it will be interesting to see what they do with the midfield early on - Moala is much better at 12 than 13, Faiane and Little I have seen play at 12 but not so much 13 whereas Rieko is just a baby.
     
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/73435304/Blues-taking-no-risks-with-Rene-Rangers-Super-Rugby-return-as-recovery-from-neck-surgery-continues



  • I feel like I've got some sort of battered rugby fan syndrome.  I'm starting to hope again.  Amazing how a bit of time away can muck with your head.  The blues keep on smashing me down, and I keep on buying season passes.  
     
    FML.
     
     
     
    ps: Tana for coach of the year 😃



  • It depends what your expectation level is - if you believe the Blues will be a playoff team and anything less than that is abject failure then you are in for more hard times.
     
    However if you recognise this season is a rebuilding one - despite the fact the results may not be perfect - I think we can expect to see a more committed, organised team that should be more competitive and therefore much more enjoyable to watch than the 2015 team.



  • We might actually win some turnover ball this season with Ranger there, something that was severely lacking last season.
     
    It's gonna be a tough season but good to see a few youngsters in there. Can't say I've followed Namatahi Waa too much. Suprised to see him there. but good luck to him. Don't understand the Francis signing either. He'd be worse than our old mate Simon Hickey and that's saying something.



  • Northland scrum was noticably better (not a huge achievement TBF) with Waa out there, but he struggled with fitness (both injury wise and his general fitness)



  • Northland scrum was noticably better (not a huge achievement TBF) with Waa out there, but he struggled with fitness (both injury wise and his general fitness)

    Thanks for that. I'm guessing Mafileo and Prattley will be our bench props to start off with but I'm sure he'll get an opportunity sometime this year.



  • I think that maybe Tu'ungafasi will transition to Loosehead. More opportunity to start away from Charlie and I suspect he is better there anyway from the brief times I've seen him play No1. He is too tall at 1.95 for Tighthead. Otherwise they picked 4 tight heads and 2 loose which doesn't seem logical. Has anyone heard where Hames has gone?



  • Man that would be a mediocre lineout. The opposition would be able to rely on perfect set-piece ball with Luatua and Tuipulotu jumping against them.

    Just because Tuipulotu is a big, heavy lock, that doesn't mean he is a bad line out jumper. In fact, he had a pretty decent number of steals last season.



  • Actually that might have been last season. I remember I checked it then in response to people saying similar things.



  • This is the weakest Blues squad ever. They will struggle to avoid the bottom place.



  • It's not the best team we could've put together, but regardless, I'm looking forward to the new season and the development of the team. I'm not asking for the world for this season, I just want us to show progress and to be watchable again.
     
    Our defense was actually quite good for about 2/3 of last season. We were only leaking 2 tries a game up until round 11, then Kaino gets injured and our D went down the drain. We'll need him and a few others like Tuipulotu, Faumuina, Gibson and Akira to stay healthy for most of the season to keep our defense to a respectable level.
     
    Our attack was non-existent last season, but I'm optimistic that it'll be a lot better this year under Feeney and Tana. We had a lot of close losses last season, but if we had a competent attack, I think we turn a few of those close losses into wins.



  • It's not the best team we could've put together, but regardless, I'm looking forward to the new season and the development of the team. I'm not asking for the world for this season, I just want us to show progress and to be watchable again.
     
    Our defense was actually quite good for about 2/3 of last season. We were only leaking 2 tries a game up until round 11, then Kaino gets injured and our D went down the drain. We'll need him and a few others like Tuipulotu, Faumuina, Gibson and Akira to stay healthy for most of the season to keep our defense to a respectable level.
     
    Our attack was non-existent last season, but I'm optimistic that it'll be a lot better this year under Feeney and Tana. We had a lot of close losses last season, but if we had a competent attack, I think we turn a few of those close losses into wins.

    Yeah I think as mentioned earlier in the thread - getting turnover ball will help with this. We had real problems with  that particularly last season, as that wasn't really O'Connor's strength, and with no Ranger etc. I think with this year's squad there's much more ability regarding generating turnovers (Gibson, Ioane, Ranger etc).



  • Quite a good article on stuff about the team too.
     
    It seems to confirm my thoughts on the Round 1 to 10 availability for the 7s guys.
     
    If Ranger is eased into things early it will be interesting to see what they do with the midfield early on - Moala is much better at 12 than 13, Faiane and Little I have seen play at 12 but not so much 13 whereas Rieko is just a baby.
     
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/73435304/Blues-taking-no-risks-with-Rene-Rangers-Super-Rugby-return-as-recovery-from-neck-surgery-continues

    Yeah, I'm interested to see what they do if Ranger isn't ready. Moala is definitely better at 12, but I think it might be safer to play him at 13 if Ranger is out, because I don't think we'll want rookies out of position against the Highlanders, Crusaders and Hurricanes in those early rounds.
     
    I haven't seen Little play 13, but I remember Faiane playing a game or two at 13 for the NZ U20s last year and a couple of games there for Blues development.



  • If Ranger isnt available, you have to wonder if he will be able to at all, given he signed for NH, was going to be available, then was mid-season, then not at all, now maybe not for start of S15...?
     
    Hopefully he is fine and they are being overly cautious for ITM Cup


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