More flair for NZ franchises

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 10:25
Large pitaahkiotago Large lolagivisinianorthharbour Large joeedwardswellington Large albertnikorowaikato Large seanpolwartcanterbury

The New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their wider training groups for the 2013 Super Rugby season.

The New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their wider training groups for the 2013 Super Rugby season.

The wider training groups were named as the players new to Super Rugby squads in 2013 arrived in Wellington on Friday for an induction day at the New Zealand Rugby Union headquarters.

Those players plus wider training group players report for duty for the first time with their franchises next week.

New Zealand Rugby Union General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said this was an exciting time for new players starting their Super Rugby careers or on the verge of it through wider training groups.

"We consider Investec Super Rugby the best international regional competition in the world. We know that these boys are hugely excited about the opportunity to step up to Super Rugby, but on the back of some of the form we saw in ITM Cup, we know we're in for a fantastic 2013 season.

"We wish all the new players well for the 2013 season and we're looking forward to seeing them in action."

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan named an exciting crop of up-and-comers in Pita Ahki, Lolagi Visinia, Joe Edwards, Albert Nikoro and Sean Polwart.

“We were initially concerned because last season there were 40 players used through injury, but at the end of the day I believe we’ve taken the courageous route and we’ve picked some real excitement machines with huge upside and no experience,” Kirwan said.

“The nice thing about all these guys is they’re good enough to be great and that’s their challenge. I think the catch cry for this group is turning their potential into a reality.”

At just 22-years-old, Auckland flank Sean Polwart is the elder statesman of the group, having made five appearances for the Blues.

All the other players have only one season of provincial rugby under their belts, with Visinia having also played for New Zealand Sevens and Ahki representing New Zealand at this year’s Junior World Championship.

“The most important thing I said to them was ‘boys, this is your football team, we need you to show respect for your elders but when you cross the white line I’m expecting you to step up and play Super Rugby’ so it’s a big ask but they’re all incredibly excited about it,” Kirwan said.

Blues: Pita Ahki, Joe Edwards, Albert Nikoro, Sean Polwart, Lolagi Visinia.

Chiefs: Mike Kainga, Michael Leitch, Pauliasi Manu, Maritino Nemani, Matt Vant Leven.

Hurricanes: Richard Buckman, Mike Coman, Ash Dixon, Callum Gibbins, Ope Peleseuma.

Crusaders: Kurt Baker, Adrian Barone, Joel Everson, Paea Fa'anunu, Kieron Fonotia.

Highlanders: Hugh Blake, Tony Ensor, Bronson Murray, Doug Tietjens, Frae Wilson.

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