Ten Northlanders will get an opportunity to prove their rugby chops at the next level after enjoying a strong Mitre 10 Cup campaign.

New Zealand's five Super Rugby sides have named their 2018 squads with the Blues selecting the most Northlanders.

Tamati Tua has been given his first Super Rugby contract after some good showings in the midfield for Northland and the victorious New Zealand Under 20s.

Dan Pryor will want a fully fit season after impressing once again for Northland. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Pryor will want a fully fit season after impressing once again for Northland. Photo / Getty Images

He will be joined by four of his Taniwha teammates: hooker Matt Moulds, lock Josh Goodhue, loose forward Kara Pryor and halfback Sam Nock.


Tua is the only one in that group to not make their Super Rugby debut though he looks poised to feature given the relative lightness of the midfield with only Sonny Bill Williams and George Moala having any significant experience.

Solomon Alaimalo returns to the Chiefs to build on his impressive 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Solomon Alaimalo returns to the Chiefs to build on his impressive 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Coach Tana Umaga said they wanted to reward form from within the region.

"We've seen a number of our 2017 team produce excellent form in the Mitre 10 Cup and others who have played well to earn their opportunity.

"At the same time we are always looking ahead, especially to young guys who have come through our programmes or want to come back to Auckland and want to play for the Blues.

"We have to work harder than we have before, but above all else have players wanting to progress both on and off the field."

Further down State Highway 1, Solomon Alaimalo will return to the Chiefs after again impressing in the backline.

The Chiefs 2017 Rookie of the Year, capable of playing fullback and wing, is likely to get an extended stint in the starting lineup with the departure of James Lowe.

In Wellington, Murray Douglas will join the Hurricanes after his hard graft in his debut Northland season.

Able to play lock and blindside flanker, Douglas will join a side looking to improve on their semifinal defeat to the Lions this year.

Jack Goodhue and Jone Macilai will return to the Crusaders as the defending champions will look to back up a stellar campaign in 2017.

Goodhue will line up in the midfield alongside fellow All Black squad member Ryan Crotty while Macilai faces a battle in the outside backs with All Blacks David Havili, Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu.

Dan Pryor will return to the Highlanders hopeful of a full season after a 2017 Super Rugby campaign hampered by injury.

Pryor showed just how good he is when he gets consistent rugby under his belt, returning to the NZ Maori squad for their end of year fixtures.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger is excited by his squad.

"We're very happy with the group of younger guys we have managed to pick up, they will mesh nicely with the more established players we already have.

"One aspect young players always bring to any squad is boundless enthusiasm and energy; as a coach you always look to embrace that."

2018 Super Rugby Squads:
Forwards: Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Pauliasi Manu, Isaac Salmon, Mike Tamoaieta, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jimmy Tupou, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Dalton Papalii, Glenn Preston, Kara Pryor, Murphy Taramai.
Backs: Sam Nock, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru, Otere Black/Daniel Kirkpatrick, Bryn Gatland, Stephen Perofeta, Matt Johnson, George Moala, Tamati Tua, TJ Faiane, Sonny Bill Williams, Caleb Clarke, Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Jordan Trainor.

Forwards: Aidan Ross, Kane Hames, Mitchell Graham, Sosefo Kautai, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Nathan Harris, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Michael Allardice, Fin Hoeata, Taleni Seu, Tyler Ardron, Mitchell Brown, Liam Messam, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Karpik, Sam Cane.
Backs: Jonathan Taumateine, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, Alex Nankivell, Johnny Fa'auli, Regan Verney, Tim Nanai-Williams, Sam McNicol, Levi Aumua, Toni Pulu, Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson.

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Alex Fidow, Reg Goodes, Ben May, Toby Smith, Jeffery To'omga-Allen, James Blackwell, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Sam Lousi, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Gareth Evans, Vaea Fifita, Sam Henwood, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson.
Backs: Jamie Booth, Finlay Christie, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Va'a, Ihaia West, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea.

Forwards: Michael Alaalatoa, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Wyatt Crockett, Mitchell Dunshea, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Billy Harmon, Oliver Jager, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody, Tim Perry, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Peter Samu, Tom Sanders, Quinten Strange, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Sam Whitelock.
Backs: Tim Bateman, George Bridge, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Mike Delany, Mitchell Drummond, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Bryn Hall, David Havili, Mitchell Hunt, Will Jordan, Jone Macilai, Manasa Mataele, Richie Mo'unga, Jack Stratton, Seta Tamanivalu.

Forwards: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, Elliot Dixon, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, James Lentjes, Dan Pryor, Alex Ainley, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Josh Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson, Kalolo Tuiloma, Siate Tokolahi, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Tyrel Lomax, Aki Seiuli, Guy Millar, Ash Dixon, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Liam Coltman.
Backs: Ben Smith, Josh McKay, Tevita Li, Waisake Naholo, Tevita Nabura, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Richard Buckman, Patelesio Tomkinson, Matt Faddes, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Lima Sopoaga, Fletcher Smith, Josh Ioane, Josh Renton, Kayne Hammington, Aaron Smith.