The Hurricanes have welcomed a group of exciting new talent into their 38-man squad for the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season which kicks-off on 24 February.
Wellington’s James O-Reilly, Canterbury’s Ngatungane Punivai, North Harbour’s Ben Grant, Manawatū’s Josh Taula, Waikato’s James Tucker, and Bay of Plenty’s Richard Judd will all be in line to take the field when the Hurricanes get their campaign underway against the Western Force in Perth.
Hurricanes new Head Coach Clark Laidlaw said he is thrilled with the latest recruits coming through and what they’ll bring to the side this season.
“It’s always exciting to have new players and the energy they bring to the team. All the coaches are looking forward to welcoming the new players to the club, getting to know them, and integrating them into how we want to play. Within the new players we have some players who are new to Super Rugby as well as others who have played at this level before, which again we think can add to the depth of our side.
“Overall, we are very happy with the depth of the squad. We feel we have good competition for places across the group and are really looking forward to working together through pre-season to get that competition onto the training field, heading towards Round One.
Laidlaw said while the main goal is to win the competition, the Hurricanes have set other goals to make the club successful on all levels.
“Obviously the ultimate goal is to win Super Rugby Pacific, but we are well aware all teams will have the same goal in mind. We know how tough the competition is going to be, so initially our key goal it is to connect well as a full group, get clear on how we want to play and work hard.”
While the Hurricanes will miss the likes of Ardie Savea (sabbatical) and Dane Coles (retired), they will also be gaining a seasoned campaigner in former England international loose-forward Brad Shields (played 104 matches for the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2018) who is set to return to his old stomping ground.
“I am super excited to be back with the Hurricanes. Being a Wellingtonian and from the Hurricanes region, it’s a massive honour to be amongst this group again. Having seen some form players through the NPC and now with the Hurricanes, I’m excited to test myself and create some good competition within the group,” said Shields.
Laidlaw said Shields’ experience will be vital for the side in 2024.
“Brad’s presence in the team this season will be crucial. We already know his qualities as a player and leader, as he was in this side previously, so we are delighted to have him back.”
The club is also rich in options at halfback with All Black Cam Roigard (who recently signed an extension with the club until 2027) former All Black TJ Perenara, and the incoming Richard Judd all on their books.
Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee said the Hurricanes have formed a formidable squad for 2024 and is excited with the direction Laidlaw will bring to this playing group.
“We want to win the competition, simple as that. We are well aware our fans are keen for the title to be brought back here and we believe this coaching group and the players we have on board can do that. We are also building on connecting deeply with the Hurricanes community. We need the fans to support the team to help lift them to success, so we are hoping we’ll have bigger home crowds in 2024.”
Hurricanes 2024 season preparations start with first-year contracted players assembling on 23 November, with the rest of the squad assembling on 27 November, with All Blacks players returning on a later date.
The squad will then play two pre-season matches against the Highlanders in Queenstown on 9 February, and Moana Pasifika on 16 February at NZCIS (Wellington).
The Hurricanes Round One DHL Super Rugby Pacific match is against Western Force in Perth on 24 February.
Hurricanes 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific squad
Siale Lauaki – Wellington
Tyrel Lomax – Tasman
Tevita Mafileo – Bay of Plenty
Xavier Numia – Wellington
Pouri Rakete-Stones – Hawke’s Bay
Pasilio Tosi – Bay of Plenty
Asafo Aumua – Wellington
Jacob Devery – Hawke’s Bay
James O’Reilly – Wellington
Caleb Delany – Wellington
Ben Grant – North Harbour
Justin Sangster – Bay of Plenty
Josh Taula – Manawatū
James Tucker – Waikato
Isaia Walker-Leawere – Hawke’s Bay
Devan Flanders – Hawke’s Bay
TK Howden – Manawatū
Brayden Iose – Manawatū
Du’Plessis Kirifi – Wellington
Peter Lakai – Wellington
Brad Shields – Wellington
Richard Judd – Bay of Plenty
TJ Perenara – Wellington
Cam Roigard – Counties Manukau
Brett Cameron – Manawatū
Aidan Morgan – Wellington
Jordie Barrett – Taranaki
Riley Higgins – Wellington
Billy Proctor – Wellington
Bailyn Sullivan – Waikato
Peter Umaga-Jensen – Wellington
Harry Godfrey – Hawke’s Bay
Ruben Love – Wellington
Josh Moorby – Northland
Kini Naholo – Taranaki
Ngatungane Punivai – Canterbury
Salesi Rayasi – Auckland
Daniel Sinkinson – Waikato