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The Gallagher Chiefs have named an exciting, experienced squad for the upcoming 2017 Investec Super Rugby Season.

Thirty-one players return from the 2016 squad, including Kane Hames, Mitchell Brown and Lachlan Boshier, who all impressed as Squad replacement players in 2016. Seasoned campaigners Liam Messam and Tim Nanai-Williams return home, bringing more than 200 Chiefs caps of experience with them. They are joined by hard-working loose forward Michael Leitch who also returns from Japan to don the Gallagher Chiefs jersey in 2017.

The squad boasts seven current All Blacks, including 21-year old backs Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown. The promising youngsters had instrumental seasons with the Gallagher Chiefs, with their outstanding form earning them selection into the All Blacks.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “We are really happy with the make-up of our Squad. There is an excellent blend of youth and experience, 17 who have played International rugby along with 14 young men who return for their second season in Chiefs colours. That continuity is important, men who have been in our environment and understand the expectations of being a Chief.”

In addition to the high number of returning players for the Gallagher Chiefs, the 2017 squad has five exciting new Chiefs players vying to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts. These debutants are Sosefo Kautai of Waikato, Liam Polwart of Bay of Plenty, Johnny Fa’auli of Taranaki, Solomon Alaimalo of Northland and Finlay Christie of Tasman.

Sosefo Kautai and Liam Polwart have both successfully progressed through the University of Waikato Chiefs Development programme, making for a total of 13 Chiefs Development graduates in the 2017 squad.

Johnny Fa’auli, who showcased his scintillating form for Taranaki in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup, shared his excitement at joining the Chiefs for his first Investec Super Rugby season.

“Playing Super Rugby was a big goal of mine so to be included in the Chiefs squad for 2017 and be one step closer to achieving that goal is exciting. I've really enjoyed my rugby and have learned a lot playing for Taranaki this year, I'm looking forward to building on that and learning from some quality coaches and my teammates at the Chiefs this coming season” said Fa’auli.

Returning Gallagher Chiefs player Mitchell Brown added: "I had a taste of the Chiefs environment for a few months last year as a Squad replacement player which I really enjoyed, so I'm excited to come on board for the full season in 2017 and continue my development as a player under the guidance of great coaches. It's a privilege to wear the Chiefs jersey and play rugby for a job. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be involved this season."

Dave Rennie said the newest additions to the Gallagher Chiefs squad had earned their place through strong performances in the Mitre 10 Cup.

“It’s always a very exciting time for first time Super Rugby players and highlights the great development
work being done in our Provincial Unions. Our new Chiefs have been outstanding performers during the
Mitre 10 Cup and have the ability and attitude to wear the Chiefs jersey for a many years to come.”

The Gallagher Chiefs kick off their 2017 Investec Super Rugby campaign against the Highlanders on 24
February, and play their first home game against the Blues at FMG Stadium Waikato on Friday 3 March.

Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Atu Moli (Waikato)
Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (Bay of Plenty)
Mitchell Graham (Taranaki)
Kane Hames (Tasman)
Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)

Hika Elliot (Counties Manukau)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)
Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)

Brodie Retallick (Hawkes Bay)
Dominic Bird (Canterbury)
Michael Allardice (Hawkes Bay)
James Tucker (Waikato)

Taleni Seu (Auckland)
Liam Messam
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)
Tom Sanders (Canterbury)
Michael Leitch

Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato)
Brad Weber (Hawkes Bay)
Finlay Christie (Tasman)

Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
Stephen Donald (Waikato)

Damian McKenzie (Waikato)

Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
Johnny Fa’auli (Taranaki)

Tim Nanai-Williams
Solomon Alaimalo (Northland)

Sam McNicol (Hawkes Bay)
James Lowe (Tasman)
Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty)
Toni Pulu (Counties Manukau)
Glen Fisiiahi (Counties Manukau)
Shaun Stevenson (Waikato)

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