August 08, 2019

Counties Manukau bolster stocks for 2019

If 8000 tickets are sold for the first 2019 PIC Steelers home game against Taranaki (10th August) at Navigation Homes Stadium, ticket holders will be granted free entry for the remainder of the 2019 regular home games! Find out more here

With an infusion of new talent into their squad they look well-equipped to improve on their sixth place of last year.

Wing Toni Pulu is the only notable defection from last year's side but some interesting recruitments from overseas have bolstered the outside back stocks.

Outside back Andrew Kellaway has played 11 games for the Waratahs in Super Rugby and had 23 games for Northampton in 2018. He's also a former Australian Schools and Australian Under-20 representative. At the 2014 World U-20 tournament he scored 10 tries to break the tournament record previously held by Julian Savea and Zac Guildford.

Wing Chris Kuridrani played for the Reds 25 times in Super Rugby between 2014-17. He has played for both Australia and Fiji Under-20s sides and joins the side from the Honda Heat. He is the younger brother of Nemani Nadolo. A cousin of Tevita Kuridrani, he adopted the Kuridrani family name in 2011.

Fullback/utility Luteru Laulala will have Gallagher Chiefs wing Etene Nanai-Seturo back alongside while Sam Furniss, Cardiff Vaega, Nathanial Apa and second five-eighths Nikolai Foliaki, who was on the fringes of the Auckland squad last season, will join Orbyn Leger in the midfield, although Leger may play more often at first five-eighths. Riley Hohepa is another contender for that position.

Halfback Jonathan Taumateine missed all of last season due to injury and will strengthen the halfback stocks where he is joined by Liam Daniela and Siaosi Nginingini.

Loose forward Sam Henwood, another who suffered injury frustrations last year, will head the loose forward department with Johnathan Kawau, Samuel Slade, Daniel Hyatt, Malgene Ilaua, Savelio Ropati and Callum Adams providing depth.

The side looks strong in the middle row where it can call on Viliame Rarasea, Matiaha Martin, Daymon Leasuasu and Sikeli Nabou.

Joining the front row of last season's players Mark Royal, Sean Bagshaw, Suetana Saomua and Nepo Laulala, is former Taranaki hooker in 2017-18 Donald Maka. Australian tighthead prop Tim Metcher has made seven Super Rugby appearances, six for the Rebels and one for the Force. He joins the province from the Seattle Seawolves where he played eight games last season.

Prop Conan O'Donnell is originally from Ireland but joins Counties Manukau from the Sunwolves. A former Ireland Under-18 and Under-20 player he made his mark with Connacht under former Blues coach Pat Lam.

The Counties Manukau squad is:
Mark Royal, Sean Bagshaw, Seutana Asomua, Tim Metcher, Conan O'Donnell, Nepo Laulala, Donald Maka, Joseph Royal, Zuriel Togiatama, Josephy Case, Daymon Leasuasu, Sikeli Nabou, Viliame Rarasea, Matiaha Martin, Sam Henwood, Johnathan Kawau, Samuel Slade, Daniel Hyatt, Malgene Ilaua, Savelio Ropati, Callum Adams, Kieran Read, Jonathan Taumateine, Liam Daniela, Siaosi Nginingini, Orbyn Leger, Riley Hohepa, Luteru Laulala, Cardiff Vaega, Nathanial Apa, Nikolain Foliaki, Sam Furniss, Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Fitzsimons, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Chris Kuridrani, Andrew Kellaway, Kalione Hala, Tevita Nabura.

Counties Manukau bolster stocks for 2019