The inclusion of former All Black captain Kieran Read and current All Black Nepo Laulala as well as a host of local talent highlights the PIC Counties Manukau Steelers squad named for the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.
First year coach Tai Lavea has adopted a policy of picking from within the region as the vast majority of the squad has been sourced locally.
Long-serving first-five and former Blues representative Baden Kerr brings a steadying hand at the crucial first-five position while he will join the likes of Chiefs backs and PIC Steelers regulars Orbyn Leger and Jonathan Taumateine in providing leadership for the young side.
Sevens stars Etene Nanai-Seturo and Sione Molia will be handy inclusions in Lavea’s side and will battle Highlanders winger Kirisi Kuridrani and ex-Crusaders star Sione Fifita for playing time.
The exciting Luteru Laulala makes a return to the side after missing last season with an ACL injury while Pukekohe youngster Jarrod Halliday will be a player to watch having demonstrated a monster left boot in club football this season.
Two-time World Cup winning number eight Read will finally get to represent the province he grew up in after a long and distinguished career with Canterbury and the Crusaders. He jumped at the opportunity to come home and give back to Counties Manukau, where he played his junior football with the Drury club and Rosehill College.
The experienced Matiaha Martin and Samuel Slade will be cornerstones of the forward pack while Blues star Dalton Papalii will be a star addition to the back row as he pushes his All Blacks’ case.
Talented youngsters Donald Maka (Chiefs), Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Blues) and former age group star Suetena Asomua will be worth keeping an eye on in the front row while Conan O’Donnell (Highlanders) returns for a second season after being a stand-out for the side last year.
The PIC Steelers open their 2020 campaign with a clash against defending Mitre 10 Cup champions Tasman at Navigation Homes Stadium on Saturday September 12.
Both sides will be stacked with international and Super Rugby experience. The match kicks-off at 7.05pm with the Counties Manukau U21 final between Patumahoe and Manurewa serving as the curtain-raiser.
PIC Steelers squad: Suetena Asomua (Waiuku), Joseph Casey (Ardmore Marist), Pelefofoga Cowley (Manurewa), Lyndon Dunshea (Waiuku), Sione Fifita (Pukekohe), Penisoni Fineanganofo (Waiuku), Nikolai Foliaki (Karaka), Latiume Fosita (Ardmore Marist), Kalione Hala (Karaka), Jarrod Halliday (Pukekohe), Leigh Hughes (Pukekohe), Johnathan Kawau (Bombay), Baden Kerr (Karaka), Kirisi Kuridrani (Papakura), Luteru Laulala (Ardmore Marist), Nepo Laulala (Ardmore Marist), Potu Leavasa (Manurewa), Orbyn Leger (Karaka), Dylan Leckner (Ardmore Marist), Ezekiel Lindenmuth (Ardmore Marist), Donald Maka (Onewhero), Clinton Malolua (Papakura), Matiaha Martin (Bombay), Ioane Moananu (Manurewa), Sione Molia (Karaka), Alamanda Motuga (Ardmore Marist), Tevita Nabura (Waiuku), Etene Nanai-Seturo (Karaka), Conan O’Donnell (Karaka), Dalton Papalii (Patumahoe), Kieran Read (Drury), Jason Robertson (Manurewa), Cameron Roigard (Onewhero), Samuel Slade (Pukekohe), Ryan Stewart (Waiuku), Viliami Taulani (Manurewa), Jonathan Taumateine (Ardmore Marist), Zuriel Togiatama (Ardmore Marist), Mickey Woolliams (Karaka).
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