The return of props Mark Braidwood and Jarvy Aoake is a feature of the Hawke's Bay Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad which was revealed for the first time in Auckland yesterday.
"Both Mark and Jarvy missed selection last year but have stood up and kept trying in club play this season and have been rewarded for their efforts," Magpies head coach Craig Philpott said after all 14 squads were released at the season launch where halfback Brad Weber represented the Magpies.
World champion Baby Blacks props Tim Farrell and Pouri Rakete-Stones, Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports utility back Hayden Hann and Napier Old Boys Marist loosie Matt Gardner, this season's Hawke's Bay club rugby MVP, and Hastings Rugby and Sports hooker Jacob Devery are all poised to make their Magpies debuts on the back of strong performances during the Hawke's Bay club season.
Farrell, 19, will miss the first five to six weeks through injury. In addition to his squad of 32 Philpott has named 100-match veteran Chris Eaton and Napier Old Boys Marist halfback Zac Donaldson as fulltime injury cover players for former All Black Weber and Ellery Wilson who aren't expected to be available for another three and six weeks respectively.
Blockbusting NOBM No 8 Joseph Penitito, who scored 23 tries during the club season, must be considered the unluckiest to miss selection. Philpott said Penitito is one of eight or nine Saracens who will be monitored closely.
Philpott pointed out the toughest conversations he had was telling 2016 Magpies, Hastings Rugby and Sports flanker Ben Hamelink and the Clive pair of hooker Jorian Tangaere and lock Josh Eden-Whaitiri they hadn't made the 32. They will be among the Saracens who could play their way back into the squad depending on form and injuries.
Unlike in recent seasons when up to 18 Super Rugby players have been selected only 10 players who appeared at Super Rugby level this season have got the nod and All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Israel Dagg, who are highly unlikely to be seen in Magpies colours this season, are among them.
"This squad is the most local of the teams I have named during my six seasons in the Bay. Eighty per cent of the squad has been in the Bay for three years or more and 66 per cent of the squad was schooled in the Bay. It still has a little bit of an international flavour too," he added referring to Samoa flanker Fa'alemiga Selesele, new Waratahs lock Nick Palmer and the Vaega brothers, midfielder Cardiff and promising wing-fullback TJ.
Philpott said 100-match veteran Karl Lowe, a former Maori All Black and Hurricanes flanker, wasn't considered because he only returned to club play a fortnight ago after almost a month off with an injury.
The full Magpies squad is:
Michael Allardice, Jarvy Aoake, Mark Braidwood, Richard Buckman, Geoff Cridge, Israel Dagg, Jacob Devery, Ash Dixon, Pasqualle Dunn, Mason Emerson, Gareth Evans, Tiaan Falcon, Tim Farrell, Matt Gardner, Hayden Hann, Mason Kean, Tony Lamborn, Jason Long, Jonah Lowe, Ben May, Sam McNicol, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Nick Palmer, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Hugh Renton, Brodie Retallick, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Cardiff Vaega, TJ Vaega, Brad Weber, Ihaia West, Ellery Wilson.
Injury cover: Chris Eaton, Zac Donaldson.