In 2019, the Bay of Plenty Steamers built a reputation as entertainers on their way to claiming the Mitre 10 Cup Championship.

In 2020, they look set to be more explosive than ever.

Head coach Clayton McMillan has named his squad to contest the 2020 Premiership this year, having been promoted from the Championship, and there are some notable inclusions.

An already strong squad will be bolstered by All Blacks captain Sam Cane and All Blacks Sevens co-captain Scott Curry.

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Curry and his Sevens team-mates are stuck in New Zealand with the international Sevens calendar on hold due to Covid-19 while Cane last played for Bay of Plenty in 2016.

After almost one month on the sidelines, which included sitting out the North-South fixture, Cane has sufficiently recovered from the nasty head knock he took when colliding with Jordie Barrett's hip while playing for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Reporoa-raised Cane will have the chance to return with Bay of Plenty against Taranaki's Barrett brothers in Inglewood on Sunday.

Throw in the likes of Blues first five Otere Black and Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and the squad has quality and experience in crucial positions.

"Off the back of last year's highly successful campaign, our immediate priority was retaining the bulk of that squad, which we managed to achieve," McMillan said.

"That enabled us to be very deliberate in filling the remaining spots with player profiles that either complement or bring something unique to our established roster.

"There is genuine depth in most positions, which I think is critical to a team's success in what is a short but arduous competition."

The 2020 squad features many familiar faces from the winning 2019 side including Mitre 10 Cup player of the year Chase Tiatia.

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Otere Black returns to his tribal roots after forging a provincial career in Manawatu. A Super Rugby and Māori All Blacks stalwart, Black is a tactically astute game driver who will add considerable value to the team as a player and mentor.

Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan has named his squad for the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup season. Photo / Getty Images
Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan has named his squad for the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup season. Photo / Getty Images

Tahuriorangi has also made the move home to the Bay after playing for Taranaki for the last five seasons. The three-test All Blacks halfback said spending more time with his young family was a strong motivation for his return.

The squad also sees the return of Kurt Eklund, Emoni Narawa, Aaron Carroll, Kaleb Trask and Jeff Thwaites, all of whom picked up Super Rugby contracts after their 2019 Mitre 10 Cup season.

All Blacks Sevens players Curry and Sam Dickson are set to make their debut for the Steamers this season, alongside Sevens team-mates and current Steamers Joe Webber and Regan Ware.

The Steamers' coaching team has named Aidan Ross as their captain for the 2020 season. Ross is looking forward to leading the team for a second year, with the added excitement of playing in the Premiership.

Rotorua's Mathew Skipwith-Garland makes a run for the Steamers in last year's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final against Hawke's Bay. Photo / Getty Images
Rotorua's Mathew Skipwith-Garland makes a run for the Steamers in last year's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final against Hawke's Bay. Photo / Getty Images

The Steamers hosted a pre-season hitout with a game of three halves against Counties Manukau in Whakatāne on Friday. The game was played under Covid-19 level 2 restrictions which meant no crowds were allowed.

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It was the Steamers' only pre-season game and allowed the team a chance to gel and test new combinations, while also giving the coaches the difficult task of selecting the team for Sunday's opener against Taranaki at 2.05pm at TET Stadium & Events Centre in Inglewood.

2020 Bay of Plenty Steamers squad:
Aaron Carroll - Lock (Mount Maunganui)
Aidan Ross - Prop (Te Puke Sports)
Chase Tiatia - Utility Back (Rangataua)
Cole Forbes - Fullback (Te Puke Sports)
Dan Hollinshead - First Five-Eighth (Te Puke Sports)
Emoni Narawa - Wing (Tauranga Sports)
Fa'asiu Fuatai - Wing (Rangataua)
Haereiti Hetet - Prop (Mount Maunganui)
Hugh Blake - Loose Forward (Mount Maunganui)
Jeff Thwaites - Prop (Te Puna)
Joe Johnston - Loose Forward (Te Puke Sports)
Joe Webber - Wing (Rangiuru)
Joe Tupe - Number 8 (Greerton Marist)
Jordan Lay - Prop (Whakarewarewa)
Kaleb Trask - First Five-Eighth (Tauranga Sports)
Kane Le'aupepe - Lock (Te Puke Sports)
Keepa Mewett - Lock (Tauranga Sports)
Kurt Eklund - Hooker (Mount Maunganui)
Lalomilo Lalomilo - Utility Back (Te Puke Sports)
Leroy Carter - Halfback (Tauranga Sports)
Luke Campbell - Halfback (Te Puke Sports)
Mathew Skipwith-Garland - Midfield Back (Whakarewarewa)
Mitchell Karpik - Loose Forward (Rangataua)
Nathan Vella - Hooker (Rangataua)
Nathan Harris - Hooker (Te Puke Sports)
Nic Souchon - Hooker (Tauranga Sports)
Otere Black - First Five-Eighth (Ruatoki)
Regan Ware - Wing (Rangiuru)
Ross Geldenhuys - Prop (Rangiuru)
Sam Cane - Loose Forward (Reporoa)
Sam Dickson - Number 8 (Rangiuru)
Scott Curry - Midfield Back (Mount Maunganui)
Stan van den Hoven - Lock (Greerton Marist)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi - Halfback (Rotoiti)
Tevita Mafileo - Prop (Tauranga Sports)
Zane Kapeli - Loose Forward (Te Puna)

2020 Bay of Plenty Steamers home games:
v Southland, Saturday, September 19, 7.05pm, Rotorua International Stadium (doubleheader with Bay of Plenty Volcanix).
v Auckland, Friday, October 2, 7.05pm, Rotorua International Stadium.
v Canterbury, Saturday 24th October, 2.05pm, Tauranga Domain.
v Hawke's Bay, Sunday 1st November, 2.05pm, Tauranga Domain.
v North Harbour, Sunday 15th November, 2.05pm, Tauranga Domain.

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