The trial teams for the final Super Rugby Pacific warm-up weekend have been announced.

The Melbourne Rebels will continue their build towards the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season as they name a host of Wallabies for their trial against the Fijian Drua in Melbourne.

Coach Kevin Foote has announced a near full-strength side as they turn their focus towards the on-field action before next week's opening game against the ACT Brumbies.
 

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Wallabies backrower Rob Leota will captain the side, named at number eight in a forward pack that includes Wallabies Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Josh Kemeny.

It will be Tupou's first start in Rebels colours after coming off the bench against the Waratahs at the start of the month.

Carter Gordon will start at flyhalf, coming off the back of his breakout 2023 season.

New recruits Matt Proctor and Filipo Daugunu will start in the backline whilst Andrew Kellaway returns to fullback.

Wallabies Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai and Sevens star Darby Lancaster are amongst the talent slated to come off the bench during the hit-out.

Melbourne Rebels (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, David Feliuai, Matt Proctor, Filipo Daugunu, Andrew Kellaway

Reserves: Issac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Daniel Maivaia, Maciu Nabolakasi, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Jack Maunder, James Tuttle, Jake Strachan, Darby Lancaster, Nick Jooste, David Vaihu, Lukas Ripley, Lachie Anderson, Mason Gordon, Ethan Dobbins, Cabous Eloff, Kohan Herbert.

Fijian Drua (1-15): Emosi Tuqiri, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Isoa Nasilasila, Mesake Vocevoce, Etonia Waqa, Elia Canakaivata, Meli Derenlagi (c), Frank Lomani, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Selestino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Epeli Momo, Ilaisa Droasese

Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Samuela Tawake, Vilive Miramira, Motikiai Murray, Simione Kuruvoli, Kemu Valetini, Peni Matawalu, Waqa Nalaga, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Isikeli Rabitu, Zuriel Togiatama, Jone Koroiduadua

 

The Highlanders have included All Black, Ethan de Groot, for this week’s pre-season clash set to take place in Methven. This Friday’s match will see the Highlanders take on the Crusaders, who are coming off a two-week Northern Hemisphere tour and marks the traditional pre-season encounter between the two teams, offering regional Super Rugby fans an up-close experience. Previous editions of this fixture have been hosted in various locations including Waimumu, Wanaka, Weston, Darfield, and now Methven.

This third and final pre-season match for the Highlanders of 2024, sees the return of Ethan de Groot from his rest period with the All Blacks. De Groot is eager to re-join his teammates on the field this weekend, stating, “I’ve never been one to sit on the side-lines. Watching the lads play over the last two weeks has left me feeling excited for the upcoming Super Rugby season. I’m ready to get back out there, run alongside some of the newer lads, and test the lungs against the Crusaders this Friday.” 

Having emerged as a key figure within the Highlanders squad over the past couple of seasons, despite being only 25 years old, Ethan de Groot is considered a senior player and leader within the team. 

The Crusaders have named the squad to take the field versus the Highlanders in Methven on Friday, in the final pre-season fixture before Super Rugby Pacific 2024 kicks off.

Brodie McAlister takes the captaincy and leads from the front row alongside Tamaiti Williams and Fletcher Newell. A mix of seasoned and fresh talent make up the balance of the team.

Highlanders [1-15]: Ethan de Groot, Henry Bell. Saula Ma’u, Max Hicks, Fabian Holland, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (C), Hugh Renton; Folau Fakatava, Cam Millar, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert (VC), Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jasob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.
Reserves: Jack Taylor, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jermaine Ainsley, Oliver Haig, Nikora Broughton, Nathan Hastie, Rhys Patchell, Jonah Lowe, Martín Bogado, Ayden Johnstone, Ajay Faleafaga, Hugo Plummer, Jake Te Hiwi.

Crusaders [1-15]: Tamaiti Williams, Brodie McAlister [c], Fletcher Newell, Antonio Shalfoon, Tahlor Cahill, George Reeves, Fletcher Anderson, Torian Barnes, Louie Chapman, Dan Hawkins, Heremaia Murray, Jone Rova, Toby Bell, Sevu Reece, Taine Robinson.
Reserves: Ioane Moananu, Joe Moody, Seb Calder, Liam Jack, Corey Kellow, Noah Hotham, Cooper Roberts, Isaac Hutchinson, Blair Murray, Jack Gray.


After a 90-minute hit out under the roof in Dunedin, the Hurricanes now turn their attention to hosting Moana Pasifika, naming a strong side for their final preseason match at NZCIS on Friday, in Upper Hutt.
 
The match against the Highlanders last Saturday, where 38 Hurricanes players were used, has given Head Coach Clark Laidlaw and his coaching staff some food for thought heading into Friday’s match.
 
“Although we’re a little disappointed how we played against the Highlanders, it was great to get everyone here in preseason who was fit and healthy some live rugby. There were no serious injuries which is a bonus in preseason, and it has given us an opportunity to improve some areas we can take into the game against Moana Pasifika. So, we’re excited to see how we go on the back of our game last week.”
 
Thirty-five players will be available for this match, including Hurricanes centurion TJ Perenara.

Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has named a strong extended squad of 30 for the match, with a mix of fresh and dynamic talent ready to harness the opportunity.

The starting fifteen includes Captain James Lay, former Hurricane Julian Savea and hooker Sama Malolo who scored a try in the team’s first pre-season match against the Highlanders.

With only one-try away from being named Super Rugby’s most prolific try-scorer, Savea will play against his former team for the first time since signing with Moana Pasifika at the end of 2023.

Notable starting spots have been given to development player Kyren Taumoefolau who will be starting at fullback, as well as young Tongan International Semisi Paea at number eight. Rising talent Viliami Fine has also been given another start at the right-wing position. 

Hurricanes [1-15]: Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua ©, Pasilio Tosi, Caleb Delany, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Peter Lakai, TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan, Salesi Rayasi, Reon Paul, Billy Proctor, Josh Moorby, Ruben Love.
Reserves: James O’Reilly, Raymond Tuputupu, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tevita Mafileo, Tyrel Lomax, James Tucker, Justin Sangster, Ben Grant, TK Howden, Veveni Lasaqa, Brayden Iose, Kyle Preston, Jordi Viljoen, Brett Cameron, Jordie Barrett, Riley Higgins, Kini Naholo, Daniel Sinkinson, Losi Filipo, Harry Godfrey.

Moana Pasifika [1-15]: James Lay [c], Sama Malolo, Sione Mafileo, Ofa Tautevalu, Samuel Slade, Miracle Failagi, Sione Havili Talitui, Semisi Paea, Ereatara Enari, William Havili, Nigel ah Wong, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu, Viliami Fine, Kyren Taumoefolau.
Reserves: Samiula Moli, Sateki Latu, Suetena Asomua, Allan Craig, Alamanda Motuga, Aisea Halo, D’Angelo Leuila, Anzelo Tuiavuki, Viliami Napa’a, Ola Tauelangi, Iakopo Mapu, Lotu Inisi, Tuna Tuitama, Christian Lealiifano, Jordan Trainor.


The Chiefs will face the Blues in their final pre-season clash ahead of DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

In usual pre-season fashion, the game will be played with an extended team to allow more players to accumulate minutes on the field.

“We have named two teams that will play 40 minutes each. The message to both is clear – if you want to be playing games when points are at stake, these are the opportunities to advance your case for inclusion,” said head coach Clayton McMillan.

“The Blues were impressive in Japan where a mix of power and speed made them hard to contain, we look forward to the challenge they present.”

Many of the squad’s emerging talent earned valuable game time in Japan, but this week will be supported by the return of the All Blacks who will be chomping at the bit for their first run of the season. As will dynamic backs Etene Nanai-Seturo and Shaun Stevenson who are set to start in the second half.

Chiefs First Half [1-15]: Ollie Norris, Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill, Jimmy Tupou, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Wallace Sititi, Malachi Wrampling, Tom Florence, Xavier Roe, Josh Jacomb, Peniasi Malimali, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tana Tuhakaraina, Josh Ioane

Chiefs Second Half [1-15]: Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tupou Vaa’I, Hamilton Burr, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson, Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Daniel Rona, Liam Coombes-Fabling. Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: Millenium Sanerivi, Jared Proffit, Kauvaka Kaivelata, Sione Ahio, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Tevita Ofa, Cody Nordstrom.

A host of star power will turn out for the Blues in the team’s final DHL Super Rugby Pacific pre-season hit out against the Chiefs at Takapuna Rugby Football Club.

Most of the Blues squad are set for game time in the final pre-season tune up, with Blues Head Coach Vern Cotter wanting to build on two impressive performances in Japan.

“We were pleased with the team’s efforts in Tokyo,” said Cotter.

“The boys are starting to piece things together on the park and it’ll be good to give some minutes to those players who haven’t featured yet ahead of our Round One match against the Drua in WhangaÌ„rei,” he said.

Fans can expect an array of different combinations to be tried tomorrow with Rieko Ioane, Finlay Christie, Mark Telea, Dalton Papali’i, Bryce Heem, Harry Plummer and AJ Lam all having their first run of the pre-season.

Blues First Half [1-15]: Jordan Lay, Ricky Riccitelli, PJ Sheck, James Thompson, Ed Annandale, Sam Hainsworth-Fa’aofo, Adrian Choat, Cameron Suafoa, Taufa Funaki, Harry Plummer (c), Kade Banks, Corey Evans, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Cole Forbes.

Blues Second Half [1-15]: Joshua Fusitu’a, Kurt Eklund, Angus Ta’avao, Laghlan McWhannell, Josh Beehre, Anton Segner, Dalton Papali’i (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Nock, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele’a, Zarn Sullivan

Reserves: Soane Vikena, Marcel Renata, Ben Ake, Finlay Christie, Lucas Cashmore, Meihana Grindlay, Alex Harford, Caleb Tangitau