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Waikato 2012 ITM Cup Squad

TRF Mr Fish

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Fresh off the internet :)

Props:
Toby Smith
Ben May
Ted Tauroa
Fraser Armstrong*

Hookers:
Marcel Cummings-Toone
Vance Elliot

Locks:
Chris Middleton
Romana Graham
Sam Kilgour*
Matt van Leven

Loose Forwards:
Liam Messam**
Jack Lam
Marty Holah
Zac Hohneck
Rory Grice
Alex Bradley (C)

Halfbacks:
Brendon Leonard
Tawera Kerr-Barlow

First Fives:
Sam Christie
Piers Francis*

Centres:
Jackson Willison
Save Tokula

Outside Backs:
Declan O'Donnell
Joe Webber*
Tim Mikkelson
Glen Robertson*
Trent Renata

As you can see, Bradley has been named captain. There are five new caps(*), Messam is with the All Blacks(**) and it's possible a few of the outside backs will be off with the Sevens team too (Mikkelson, Robertson the most likely of the bunch, with Webber saying he wants to focus on XVs). Only 27 players have been selected, there are also five players in the WTG. Robertson can cover centre too. For me the biggest surprise is no Latu Talakai, an ex U20 prop who seems to have dropped out of favour with the coaching staff. He was a member of the squad last season, and member of the recent training squad, but didn't even make the WTG.

Top 23 will be something along the lines of:
1 Smith
2 Cummings-Toone
3 May
4 Graham
5 Middleton
6 Lam
7 Holah
8 Bradley
9 Kerr-Barlow
10 Christie
11 O'Donnell
12 Willison
13 Tokula
14 Mikkelson
15 Renata

16 Elliot
17 Tauroa
18 Armstrong
19 van Leven
20 Hohneck
21 Leonard
22 Francis
23 Robertson/Webber

That's a pretty strong lineup. I was a bit worried that Waikato wouldn't be too strong this season, with not many players featuring in Super Rugby, but seeing this squad I'm quite optimistic about the season ahead. I'm expecting big things in particular from Robertson and Webber, the former an ex-U20 player, and the other I saw carving up the fields in First XV matches a few seasons back on Sky Sport. As per usual, the region is blessed with great talent in the outside backs, it's just a matter of the forward pack laying down a good platform. The front row is pretty strong, with two good Super Rugby props in Smith (who I hope can press for an ABs jeresey) and May. Cummings-Tooner and Elliot should have a good competition for the starting hooker role. The starting locks have both been around for a few seasons, but behind them Kilgour is uncapped and van Leven is a loosie by trade. The loose forwards are well stocked, as are the halves. The centre combination will be one of the best pairings you'll see at this level. As a whole the squad is a bit light on experience with only three players having over fifty caps (Messam, Holah and Leonard), but it does look like one of the stronger squads in the competition still.

I'm quite looking forward to this season now :D
 
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Good summary there Invictus. Interestingly when I looked through the squad and came up with what I thought the top 23 would be I came up will almost the exact same one as you, with only a single change (I had Kilgour on the bench over Hohneck). I think the locks are a bit of an area of concern - Graham is probably the only real established lock (though Middelton is ok), but you get the feeling that there is a good chance he will get red carded (and then suspended) whenever he walks onto the field. Loosies look very strong - I've got a lot of time for Grice and Hohneck, but both may struggle to even make the 23! The backline certainly looks very handy, and it will be great to see youngster like Francis, Webber, Robertson, and O'Donnell get a good run (I know O'Donnell had plenty of starts last season).

As you say, it certainly looks like a pretty strong side - on paper the only side that will probably match them (or possibly better them) will be Canterbury.....
 
interesting squad, not brimming with super rugby regulars, but really to me looks like a bunch of guys with a lot of potential. Was interested to see more of Grice this season but with Bradly named captain that may not happen. Though if it's a condensed format like last year all squads will need to rotate and use all their players.

Holah Back - he actually turned out to be seriously good at times last season even though he lacks speed around the field, his strength over the ball on such a regular Basis was pretty awesome. Even though McCaw was better in most other areas I always thought it was the one area that Holah was clearly better than McCaw. He at least will bring a huge amount of experience.

I'd really like to see Mikkelson get a proper shot at 15's, I think he is good enough to get a super contract but maybe super teams lay off him because of his obvious assets as part of the NZ 7's squad, what I like about his play is how he gets really strong late in the game. the last 15min when others slow down he really hits his straps, hands let him down last year but he's a rare player that can genuinely score end to end trys in 15's.

Romana Graham has a lot to prove after being relegated to basically a back office job at the chiefs.

Tokula - one of last years Best ITM cup players not to be a regular part of super rugby.

Very strong in the 9 area, doubt any other team have two halfbacks anywhere near as strong as these two. Barlow maybe the best outside the All Blacks and Leonard isn't far behind.

Still without seeing many of the other squads but knowing that canterbury will have Tom Taylor, Elis, Whitelocks, Crotty, Fruen. it doesn't look like a side that will win the whole thing.
 
interesting squad, not brimming with super rugby regulars, but really to me looks like a bunch of guys with a lot of potential. Was interested to see more of Grice this season but with Bradly named captain that may not happen. Though if it's a condensed format like last year all squads will need to rotate and use all their players.

Holah Back - he actually turned out to be seriously good at times last season even though he lacks speed around the field, his strength over the ball on such a regular Basis was pretty awesome. Even though McCaw was better in most other areas I always thought it was the one area that Holah was clearly better than McCaw. He at least will bring a huge amount of experience.

I'd really like to see Mikkelson get a proper shot at 15's, I think he is good enough to get a super contract but maybe super teams lay off him because of his obvious assets as part of the NZ 7's squad, what I like about his play is how he gets really strong late in the game. the last 15min when others slow down he really hits his straps, hands let him down last year but he's a rare player that can genuinely score end to end trys in 15's.

Romana Graham has a lot to prove after being relegated to basically a back office job at the chiefs.

Tokula - one of last years Best ITM cup players not to be a regular part of super rugby.

Very strong in the 9 area, doubt any other team have two halfbacks anywhere near as strong as these two. Barlow maybe the best outside the All Blacks and Leonard isn't far behind.

Still without seeing many of the other squads but knowing that canterbury will have Tom Taylor, Elis, Whitelocks, Crotty, Fruen. it doesn't look like a side that will win the whole thing.

I remain unconvinced with Mikkelson - he is a good sevens player, and generally pretty solid at this level, but he has looked out of his depth in his (admittedly few) chances at Super Rugby level. He should certainly get plenty of chances this season at the end of what should be a pretty strong backline.

Tokula is great with ball in hand, but his defense is still shocking - he makes Robbie Fruean look like Conrad Smith! If he could sort that out he could be handy at Super Rugby level, but until he does he will be stuck in the ITM Cup (or will move overseas...).
 
Hopefully the dearth of decision makers in the inside backs / midfeild doesn't lead to TKB spending half the season on the bench. Gee Kahui at 13 would radically transform the prospects of this side! The front row is exciting though, I'd forgoten about May coming back up and actually I thought Frasier Armstrong was one of the bright points from the disapointing U20 campaign this year, it'll be interesting to see how he goes.
 
who's this guy Thomas de Malmanche? In the waikato side that played the naki

name has a familiar ring to it :)
 
who's this guy Thomas de Malmanche? In the waikato side that played the naki

name has a familiar ring to it :)

Sounds like a Welsh chap, poaching All Blacks!!1!!1 ;)

What position is he, out of curiosity?
 
Sounds like a Welsh chap, poaching All Blacks!!1!!1 ;)

What position is he, out of curiosity?

He is another hooker. I just hope he can throw into the lineout straighter than Aled!

Speaking of us being poaching ********, I see that Rhys Llewellyn is involved in the current NZ 7's training camp. I would assume the plan will be to bring him to the next tournament and play him for 1 minute off the bench against Kazakhstan (or someone similar). Then we will drop him and never use him again, just so he can never play for Wales. Yes, that is just the sort of pricks we are :p
 
He is another hooker. I just hope he can throw into the lineout straighter than Aled!

Speaking of us being poaching ********, I see that Rhys Llewellyn is involved in the current NZ 7's training camp. I would assume the plan will be to bring him to the next tournament and play him for 1 minute off the bench against Kazakhstan (or someone similar). Then we will drop him and never use him again, just so he can never play for Wales. Yes, that is just the sort of pricks we are :p

I did see that. Apparently David Pickering has tried quite hard to get him to return to Wales, but Llewellyn wants to play for the All Blacks. Unfortunate, but ultimately his choice.
We owe you a centre after Sonny Parker, so consider us even.
 

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