Canterbury have named an initial Wider Training Group for the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup campaign, in which they will look to defend their provincial Premiership title from 2015.
The 28-man squad will begin training at the end of this month with the purpose of preparing players for possible inclusion in the Mitre 10 Cup squad.
The Wider Training Group consists of seven players who are currently contracted to the Canterbury Rugby Football Union and nine current members of the Crusaders Academy.
The squad does not include players currently involved in Super Rugby. Four New Zealand Under 20s players will join the group when they return from the World Rugby Under 20 Championship, as will head coach Scott Robertson.
Canterbury assistant coach and former rep wing Joe Maddock said the coaching team is excited about working with this new group of players.
"There is some exciting new talent coming through this season, players who have proved themselves at club rugby level and who now have the opportunity to show us that they are ready to take the step up to provincial level. We will get a good chance to get to know and develop this group before naming the final Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup," Maddock said.
Features of the squad include five current or recent past New Zealand Universities reps in halfback Jack Stratton, hooker Nick Werahiko, first five/halfback Ere Enari, Harrison Groundwater and Jack Powell. The quintet play for the defending Canterbury club champion Lincoln University.
Enari narrowly missed the cut for the New Zealand Under 20s, as did five five/fullback Josh McKay, another brilliant young No 10 out of Christchurch BHS. Mark Maitland has made the squad out of the Canterbury Country club Waihora.
The players selected for the initial Wider Training Group are:
Forwards: Tom Crozier (Sumner), Sam Godwin (University), Billy Harmon (New Brighton), Oli Jager (New Brighton), Dylan Nel (Sumner), Kalolo Otutaha (Christchurch), Jonno Osbourne (Lincoln University), Jack Powell (Lincoln University), Jordan Stewart (Linwood), Samu Tawake (Sumner), Carisbrook To'omalatai (New Brighton),
Nick Werahiko (Lincoln University)
Backs: Brett Cameron (Lincoln University), Finlay Christie (University), Ere Enari (Lincoln University), Inga Finau (Christchurch), Nigel Gibb (University), Harrison Groundwater (Lincoln University), Milford Keresoma (Sydenham), Mark Maitland (Waihora), Josh McKay (Lincoln University), Jack Stratton (Lincoln University), Marshall Suckling (Sumner), Poasa Waqanibau (Sumner)
Some players have not been named due to injuries, while the following are with the New Zealand Under 20s: Jordie Barrett (Lincoln University), Hamish Dalzell (Lincoln University), Caleb Makene (Lincoln University), Sean Paranihi (Sumner)
Those in the All Blacks are: Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Kieran Read, and Ryan Crotty.
Other Super Rugby players include the likes of Matt Todd, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga and Scott Barrett.