31 Oct 2018

All Black sevens star signs with Chiefs

9:06 am on 31 October 2018

Rising All Black sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo will play Super Rugby for the Chiefs in 2019.

Etene Nanai-Seturo will again play for the All Black Sevens.

Etene Nanai-Seturo. Photo: Photosport

The Counties Manukau outside back made his debut for the All Blacks Sevens team this year, scoring a try in the side's Commonwealth Games gold medal win over Fiji.

The 19-year-old, is one of four Chiefs who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts next year, alongside Taranaki and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O'Neill, New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola.

Described by head coach Colin Cooper as "very quick, with a great work ethic", Nanai-Seturo said he was thrilled to earn a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs.

"It's an honour and a privilege to be part of the team," the former New Zealand Schools representative said. "I'm pretty stoked, but a bit nervous at the same time."

He said he was excited about bringing his sevens skills to the squad while developing as a 15s player.

"I'm really looking forward to getting into the team environment, training hard, learning from the coaches and players, and being part of the Chiefs brotherhood."

Taranaki prop O'Neill, 23, has had a rapid rise from provincial player to All Blacks wider squad member without playing a minute of Super Rugby.

A prop who can play both sides of the scrum, O'Neill caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors in the Mitre 10 Cup and was named in the wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour.

"I'm really excited and keen to get up there and put my best foot forward," he said of his inclusion in the Chiefs.

"I obviously haven't played Super Rugby before so it's a whole new level for me, just as being in the All Blacks squad is another level again. But I'm really up for the challenge, and want to keep developing my game - I'm definitely not the finished product so want to pick everyone's brain, work hard and improve."

The former New Zealand Schools representative will link up with his former Taranaki coach, Cooper.

Lock McWhannell had an impressive New Zealand U20s campaign, which was followed by a strong Mitre 10 Cup season with Waikato.

Another player to have come through the New Zealand Schools ranks, the 20-year-old had a taste of Chiefs rugby at the Brisbane 10s tournament this year and said playing Super Rugby had always been a goal.

"I'm stoked. Growing up and going to school in Hamilton, I've always wanted to be a Chief, so I'm excited and really keen to get stuck in," he said.

Cooper said Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola, 22, who they had followed through the Chiefs' connection with the Kobe club in Japan, was an exciting prospect with "huge potential".

Another two players, who already have Super Rugby experience, are new to the squad.

New Zealand-born utility back Jack Debreczeni, 25, represented Australian Schools and played 42 games for the Melbourne Rebels before returning to New Zealand and impressing for Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

"Jack's a very experienced player, is versatile and will add to the mix at 10, 12 or 15. He's also a good kicker and game driver," Cooper said.

Samoa age-group representative midfielder Tumua Manu, 25, has played for the Blues and has starred for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

2019 Chiefs squad


Kane Hames (Tasman)

Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)

Reuben O'Neill (Taranaki)

Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)

Atu Moli (Waikato)

Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)

Angus Ta'avao (Taranaki)


Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)

Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)

Samisoni Taukei'aho (Waikato)


Brodie Retallick (Hawke's Bay)

Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)

Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)

Michael Allardice (Hawke's Bay)

Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)

Loose forwards

Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)

Taleni Seu (Auckland)

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)

Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)

Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)

Luke Jacobson (Waikato)

Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)


Brad Weber (Hawke's Bay)

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)

Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)

First five-eighths

Damian McKenzie (Waikato)

Tiaan Falcon (Hawke's Bay)

Jack Debreczeni (Northland)


Alex Nankivell (Tasman)

Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)

Tumua Manu (Auckland)

Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)

Outside backs

Solomon Alaimalo (Tasman)

Sean Wainui (Taranaki)

Ataata Moeakiola (Japan)

Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)

Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)

Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)