Rugby: Waikato name team for Shield defence

Waikato head coach Sean Botherway has named his first Waikato team of 2016. Photo / Getty
Waikato head coach Sean Botherway has named his first Waikato team of 2016. Photo / Getty

Waikato head coach Sean Botherway has named his first Waikato team of 2016 to defend the Ranfurly Shield against Thames Valley at Paeroa Domain on Monday.

The squad features six uncapped players in the run-on side with another potential five debutants named on the bench.

Melville loose forward Jake Ale is the sole debutant in the forward pack while in the backs, first five Jason Robertson, second five Tevita Taufui, wings Sevu Reece and Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, and fullback Josh Gascoigne have all been named for the first time.

Among the reserves are five more uncapped players - forwards Samisoni Taukei'aho, Duke Nginingini and Sam Caird, plus backs Matty Lansdown and Tyler Campbell.

The inclusion on the bench of former Irish international and 52-cap Waikato stalwart Isaac Boss is a feature of the squad, with the 36-year-old returning to New Zealand this week to play for Waikato in 2016 after finishing up a 10-year career in the Northern Hemisphere, playing for Ulster and Leinster.

The introduction of the new faces is mixed with nine players with experience at Mitre 10 Cup level, including a Waikato recall for prop Latu Talakai, lock Sam Kilgour and centre Glen Robertson, who all last appeared in the red, yellow and black in 2013.

"I'd like to congratulate the players selected. They have worked hard up until this point and have been big performers in club footy," Botherway said.

"The blend of youth and experience is exciting, and we're jumping out of our skins to be a part of Ranfurly Shield rugby. It will be a very special occasion for those making their debut."

With the exception of Boss, the whole squad has featured prominently throughout the opening 12 rounds of Waikato premier club rugby this season.

The Waikato Rugby Union development pathway is also evident with five players coming through the 2016 Northern Region champion Waikato Development team, two players through the last year's national finalist Waikato Juniors squad, and three players in their first year out of high school.

Tickets for the match will be available at the gate: grandstand $20, general admission $15, child $5.

The Waikato team to play in the Ranfurly Shield match against Thames Valley at the Paeroa Domain on Monday (kickoff 2.35pm) is:

1. Latu Talakai (20) Fraser Tech
2. Hame Faiva (21) University
3. Atu Moli (6) University
4. Jacob Skeen (14) University
5. Sam Kilgour (19) Hautapu
6. Jake Ale (*) Melville
7. Adam Burn (captain) (26) Hamilton Old Boys
8. Whetu Douglas (23) University
9. Harrison Levien (4) Hamilton Marist
10. Jason Robertson (*) University
11. Sevu Reece (*) Melville
12. Tevita Taufui (*) Melville
13. Glen Robertson (4) Fraser Tech
14. Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara (*) Hamilton Old Boys
15. Josh Gascoigne (*) Hautapu

16. Samisoni Taukei'aho (*) Fraser Tech
17. Tau Koloamatangi (5) University
18. Duke Nginingini (*) Hamilton Old Boys
19. Sam Caird (*) Hautapu
20. Murray Iti (6) Otorohanga
21. Isaac Boss (52) Southern United
22. Matty Lansdown (*) Fraser Tech
23. Tyler Campbell (*) University

() = caps for Waikato
* = debut for Waikato

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