22 Jul 2008

Lucky 13 newcomers for Mooloos squad

12:39 pm on 22 July 2008

There are 13 new players in Waikato's 28-strong squad for the upcoming domestic rugby season.

The newcomers include nine new forwards and four new backs with Liam Messam the new captain.

Messam has played 50 games for the Mooloos while Waikato coach Tony Hanks enters into his first season as head coach of Waikato, having been assistant to Warren Gatland for the past three seasons.

Hanks says the likes of Callum Bruce, Kevin O'Neill, Tom Harding, Faifili Levave and Oli Avei may not have had much time in the red, yellow and black jersey, but their rugby form and experience is extensive and solid.

Hanks says the squad has a good mix of experience and youth and the new signings will bring in experience which they lost due to an number of players going overseas or retiring from last year, such as Jono Gibbes, Byron Kelleher and Keith Robinson.

Several players are unavailable for Waikato due to All Blacks duty, such as Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu, and the injured Brendon Leonard.

Waikato will play Bay of Plenty on Thursday night in Hamilton in their final pre-season match.

Waikato face Northland in Whangarei on Thursday 31 July in their season opener.

The full 2008 Waikato squad is:

Forwards: Aled de Malamanche (Hamilton Old Boys), Hikairo Forbes (Hautapu), Josh Hohneck (Fraser Tech), Nathan White (Te Awamutu Sports), Craig West (Hamilton Old Boys), Oli Avei, Vern Kamo (Fraser Tech), Kent Fife (Hautapu), Romana Graham (Hautapu), Toby Lynn (Te Rapa), Kevin O'Neill (Hamilton Marist), Matt Blain (Hautapu), Tom Harding (Melville), Faifili Levave (Melville), Liam Messam (Hautapu), Jordan Smiler (Hautapu).

Backs: Malcolm Barnes (Hamilton Old Boys), David Bason (Hautapu), Callum Bruce (Hamilton Marist), Trent Renata (Hamilton Marist), Roimata Hansell-Pune (Fraser Tech), Dwayne Sweeney (Morrinsville Sports), Watene Waenga (Hamilton Marist), Jackson Willison (Hautapu), James Kamana (Fraser Tech), Tim Mikkelson (University), Henry Speight (Hamilton Old Boys), Sosene Anesi (Hamilton Marist).