An All Blacks match, neighbourhood rivalry and the possibility of a Ranfurly Shield challenge are all in the mix for the Counties Manukau PIC Steelers 2017 season with the Mitre 10 Cup squad officially announced today.
Coaches Darryl Suasua, Grant Henson and Semo Sititi have named their team with a blend of popular long-serving Steelers, new local talent, brothers, Super Rugby players and internationals.
The Counties Manukau squad features 23 players who have previously been part of the Steelers environment and seven new additions. Thirteen players have Super Rugby experience and 10 have earned international honours.
Young rookies to the PIC Steelers family include McNamara Cup winning halfback Liam Daniela from Bombay, Waiuku speedster winger Tevita Nabura and Pukekohe midfielder Salimoni Tukinia. At 20 years of age, Junior World Cup champion Orbyn ‘Go the Fro’ Leger, whose father Gus also played for the Steelers, is the youngest player in the team.
Also joining the side this year is Maori All Black Joe Royal who has spent part of the Super Rugby season training with the Blues, and Brumbies midfielder Nigel Ah Wong who scored the Brumbies only try against the Chiefs in their last New Zealand outing.
South Auckland born Samoan international Albert Nikoro formerly from the Western Force, has joined the Steelers for the first time, having been sidelines since receiving an eye injury against the All Blacks earlier in the year. All Blacks captain Kieran Read will be welcomed back home to ECOLight Stadium on Friday August 11 when Read’s two teams play each other in the Game of Three Halves.
Brothers Nepo and Luteru Laulala are expected to take the field together for the first time for the Steelers to add to the collection of brothers who have represented Counties Manukau.
The PIC Steelers will be again led by two born-and-bred Counties players. Augustine Pulu is the highest capped Steelers player in the squad and freshly back from a strong season for the Blues, joining with his Super Rugby teammate Jimmy Tupou, who welcomed a new son in late July. Tupou is on target to join a special group Steelers to have played 50 matches in the red, black and white jersey when the Steelers host Auckland in their opening Mitre 10 Cup game at ECOLight Stadium on Saturday night 19 August.
Steelers Head Coach Darryl Suasua said “It is great to have retained a core group of passionate Steelers while being able to blood-in new players. The Mitre 10 Cup is the springboard for many careers, so we are excited at the prospect of introducing our new players to this level of rugby while being surrounded by experienced players.”
It is expected that Toni Pulu and Sione Fifita, who both experienced long term injuries whilst on contract with the Chiefs and Crusaders respectively, will spend the Mitre 10 Cup season recovering. Due to Super Rugby commitments, some temporary extra players have been bought in as cover and will also be used as injury cover should the need arise.
It will be an exciting season for the PIC Steelers with the men in red, black and white starting with a fixture against the All Blacks and Taranaki in a Game of Three Halves at ECOLight Stadium on Friday 11 August at 6pm.
Tickets to the Game of Three Halves are on sale at the union office at ECOLight Stadium and from iTicket.co.nz. Prices start at $10 for adults, $7 for students with kids 13 and under free on the South Auckland Motors’ embankment. Prices for the grandstand are: adults $20, students $15, and kids 13 and under $10. The Game of Three Halves is included in CMRFU Season Memberships.
Corporate hospitality is available for all home fixtures including the Game of Three Halves via the union. Season Memberships are on sale from only $50 for a South Auckland Motors Embankment membership or $100 for a Grandstand Membership for an adult and $50 for a child. Once again kids 13 years and under are FREE on the South Auckland Motors Embankment to all Steelers round robin home games courtesy of Pak n Save Pukekohe. Memberships are available from CMRFU office and www.steelers.co.nz or www.iticket.co.nz. Individual tickets to the match are available from CMRFU office, the gate on game day or www.iticket.co.nz. For any enquiries phone 09 2370033.
|2017 PIC Steelers Squad|
|Nigel Ah Wong||Brumbies||Midfield||0 caps*|
|Sean Bagshaw||Onewhero||Prop||32 caps|
|Liam Daniela||Bombay||Halfback||0 caps*|
|Sione Fifita||Pukekohe||wing||18 caps **|
|Glen Fisi’iahi||Bombay||Wing||0 caps|
|Sam Henwood||Pukekohe||Loose forward||12 caps|
|Jonathan Kawau||Bombay||Loose forward||6 caps|
|Baden Kerr||Karaka||First Five-Eighth||29 caps|
|Luteru Laulala||Ardmore Marist||First Five-eighth||11 caps|
|Nepo Laulala||Ardmore Marist||Prop||0 caps|
|Orbyn Leger||Karaka||Midfield||0 caps|
|Fotu Lokotui||Patumahoe||Loose forward||1 caps|
|Pauliasi Manu||Karaka||Prop||25 caps|
|Matiaha Martin||Bombay||Lock||11 caps|
|Tevita Nabura||Waiuku||Wing||0 caps*|
|Tim Nanai-Williams||Manurewa||Fullback||56 caps|
|Albert Nikoro||Western Force||Ultility Back||0 caps*|
|Augustine Pulu||Karaka||Halfback||66 caps|
|Toni Pulu||Bombay||Wing||44 caps **|
|Ronald Raaymakers||Waiuku||Loose forward||51 caps|
|Viliame Rarasea||Ardmore Marist||Lock||24 caps|
|Kieran Read||Crusaders||Loose forward||0 caps*|
|Joe Royal||Patumahoe||Hooker||0 caps*|
|Salimoni Tukinia||Pukekohe||Midfield||0 caps*|
|Viliami Taulani||Manurewa||Loose forward||4 caps|
|Suliasi Taufalele||Ardmore Marist||Hooker||35 caps|
|Kalolo Tuiloma||Bombay||Prop||11 caps|
|Jimmy Tupou||Pautmahoe||Loose forward||49 caps|
|Jonathan Taumateine||Ardmore Marist||Halfback||4 caps|
|Matt Vaai||Manurewa||Loose forward||8 caps|
|Sonny Bill Williams||Puni||Midfield||2 caps|
|Sam Furniss||Patumahoe||Midfield||0 caps|
|Super Rugby Cover|
|Riley Hohepa||Patumahoe||First five-eighth|
|Corey Te Whata-Colley||Bombay||Prop|
|Sesimani Tupou||Ardmore Marist||Prop|
|Daymon Leasuasu||Ardmore Marist||Lock|
|* New Steelers||** season ending injured|
Game of Three Halves –Friday 11 August at ECOLIGHT Stadium
Steelers v Taranaki 6pm
Taranaki v All Blacks 6.50pm
Steelers v All Blacks 7.40pm
Steelers 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Fixtures at ECOLight Stadium
Steelers v Auckland, Saturday 19 August 7.35pm
Steelers v North Harbour, Thursday 7 September 7.35pm
Steelers v Hawke’s Bay, Sunday 17 September 2.35pm
Steelers v Northland, Sunday 1 October 4.35pm
Steelers v Tasman, Saturday 14 October 7.35pm
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