Rugby: Kirwan names 'young and exciting' squad

By APNZ


New Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has named what he describes as a 'young and exciting' squad for next season's Super 15 with 16 new faces in his squad of 32.


The All Black great named his first Blues squad since taking over from Pat Lam as head coach following the side's dreadful 2012 season where they finished bottom of the New Zealand conference with just four wins.


Two All Blacks also departed the franchise following the 2012 season with Ma'a Nonu and Tony Woodcock heading to the Highlanders.


It will take a transformation of fortunes to turn them into a contender in the 2013 season but he certainly showed his hand in what could be described as a fresh start.


He's leaning on number of old hands including Michael Jones, Craig Innes, Joeli Vidiri and Gus Collins to educate his players about what it means to be a Blues player.


Amongst the new players in the squad are Counties Manukau first five-eighth Baden Kerr, Canterbury loose forward Brendon O'Connor, Bay of Plenty lock Culum Retallick and Waikato midfield back Jackson Willison.


Missing however is Daniel Braid.


The Blues flanker, 31, who played six tests over eight years, had hoped to pick something up at the last minute after being told by Sir John Kirwan that his services were no longer required, but it is understood that the best offer he received was a place in the Auckland franchise's wider training group.


It is understood that he is considering an offer from an English club.


The squad includes four current All Blacks in Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Keven Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina.


Blues squad

Kane Barrett

Anthony Boric

Luke Braid

Charlie Faumuina

Malakai Fekitoa

Jamison Gibson-Park

Frank Halai

Bryn Hall

Baden Kerr

Steven Luatua

Quentin MacDonald

Tom McCartney

Marty McKenzie

Keven Mealamu

George Moala

Liaki Moli

Waisake Naholo

Chris Noakes

Brendon O'Connor

James Parsons

Tim Perry

Charles Piutau

Ronald Raaymakers

Rene Ranger

Culum Retallick

Francis Saili

Peter Saili

Angus Ta'avao

Ofa Tu'ungafasi

Piri Weepu

Ali Williams

Jackson Willison

- The Aucklander

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