The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team has been named to tour Hong Kong from 17-25 April. It is the third tour in as many years, serving as an important part of the Chiefs high-performance partnership with the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
The tour sees the University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team train together with the Hong Kong national squad and play a match against them on Saturday the 22nd of April at the Hong Kong Football Club. The players will also immerse themselves in the local community, delivering coaching sessions with local age grade players together with the Hong Kong Rugby Union during their stay.
Chiefs High Performance Manager Chris Tindall said: “It is exciting to return to Hong Kong with the University of Waikato Chiefs Development team to continue our rugby development work in partnership with the Hong Kong Rugby Union. This tour to Hong Kong is a special opportunity for our players’ learning and development to experience international touring and fulltime preparation and performance as a team to play against the Hong Kong national squad, as well as Hong Kong being a great place to experience. It provides a real opportunity for the players to impress on and off the field for future Chiefs selection, as players have done from the tours in the last two years.”
Dai Rees, Chief Rugby Operations Officer for the HKRU said: “The partnership with the Chiefs has grown from strength to strength over the past three years. Each year the training and joint sessions have become more intense offering great preparation to the Hong Kong Team for the Asia Rugby Championships in May and June. Both squads provide a great training camp environment with joint sessions throughout the weeklong tour. This all comes to a head at the Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday 22 April with both teams competing in a full game in front of a packed house as part of the annual Taipans celebration.”
The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development touring squad of 27-players includes an exciting mix of youth and experience, including former Chief Lelia Masaga who has returned to New Zealand from playing in Japan, 2017 Chiefs Squad replacement players Samisoni Taukei’aho, Matiaha Martin and Latu Vaeno and eight players selected from the Chiefs Under 20s Squad this year. Four players return to Hong Kong from the touring squads in the last two years: Ayden Johnstone, Sekope Moli, Luteru Laulala and Elijah Nicholas. The squad includes players from across the Chiefs region, with representation from Provincial Unions Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. Thirteen of the squad played in the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.
The squad also includes three players visiting with the Chiefs from the Kobelco Steelers in Japan: prop Motoki Yamazaki, lock Jang Seokhwan and midfielder Shintaro Hayashi.
Former New Zealand Under 20s representative and Waikato loose-forward Mitchell Jacobson will captain the team.
Previous University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team tourists to Hong Kong in the last two years who have progressed to the 2017 Gallagher Chiefs Super Rugby squad are Shaun Stevenson, Atu Moli, Liam Polwart, Mitchell Brown, the newly capped Gallagher Chiefs players Sefo Kautai and Aidan Ross.
The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development touring squad to Hong Kong is:
Ayden Johnstone (Waikato)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)
Kalolo Tuiloma (Counties Manukau)
Joshua Iosefo-Scott (Waikato)
Motoki Yamazaki (Kobelco Steelers)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
Sekope Moli (Waikato)
Matiaha Martin (Counties Manukau)
Viliame Rarasea (Counties Manukau)
Lachlan McWhannell (Waikato)
Jang Seokhwan (Kobelco Steelers)
Jahrome Brown (Waikato)
Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato) – captain
Du’Plessis Kirifi (Waikato)
Ajay Lafaele-Mua (Bay of Plenty)
Matt Vai’i (Counties Manukau)
Logan Crowley (Taranaki)
Luke Campbell (Bay of Plenty)
Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)
Matthew Lansdown (Waikato)
Elijah Nicholas (Bay of Plenty)
Shintaro Hayashi (Kobelco Steelers)
Latu Vaeno (Taranaki)
Sheldon Tovio (Waikato)
Tyler Campbell (Waikato)
The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team will be coached by Leo Crowley, Andrew Douglas and Paul Tito.
University of Waikato Chiefs Development Squad players not available for the tour:
Fin Hoeata (Taranaki), Jacob Skeen (Waikato), Jesse Parete (Bay of Plenty), Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty),
Harrison Levien (Waikato), Liam Steele (Bay of Plenty), Lalakai Foketi (Bay of Plenty), Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato), Sevu Reece (Waikato).
New Zealand U20 Squad players: Ryan Coxon (Waikato), Sam Caird (Waikato), Luke Jacobson (Waikato), Ciarahn Matoe (Taranaki) and Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau)
The 2017 University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development Management Team for the Hong Kong tour is:
Coach: Leo Crowley
Coach: Andrew Douglas
Coach: Paul Tito
Manager: Gareth Duncan
Trainer: Brad Mayo
Physio: Paul Smiler
Analyst: Mark Ray
High Performance Manager: Chris Tindall