Bay of Plenty playmaker Kaleb Trask has secured his first Super Rugby contract, by being named in the 2020 Gallagher Chiefs squad.
Trask, who was part of the Jock Hobbs Memorial winning Bay of Plenty Under-19s last year, had some decent game time for the Bay of Plenty Steamers at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 before being struck by injury.
He is one of nine rookies named in the Gallagher Chiefs squad for 2020, also made up of eight current All Blacks, six Māori All Blacks, one Gallagher Chiefs centurion and one international.
Trask is one of five exciting backs joining the squad. Taranaki teammates halfback Lisati Milo-Harris and winger Kini Naholo will set out to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey while Waikato's Quinn Tupaea - and Trask - will aspire to make their Investec Super Rugby debuts. Both have donned the black jersey for New Zealand Under 20s, Tupaea in 2019 and Trask in 2018.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland said he is confident he has a great group of talented players for the 2020 Investec Super Rugby season.
"I'm very excited about this group of young men we have assembled, which has a good spread of talented players from throughout our Chiefs region," Gatland said.
"Within the squad, we have a strong core group of leaders, despite losing the leadership and outstanding ability of 2019 Gallagher Chiefs co-captain Brodie Retallick we regain former co-captain Aaron Cruden.
"We have retained a large contingent of the squad for the season ahead, which will provide us with a good platform to build on. Adding in a great combination of young talent, we believe the squad we have assembled will thrive in the environment and collectively deliver for the club as a unit," Gatland said.
There are four new additions to the forwards in 2020. Called into the 2019 Gallagher Chiefs as an injury replacement player, Taranaki hooker Bradley Slater has been named in the squad for the first time, although he has two Investec Super Rugby caps to his name.
The intelligent, hardworking hooker will be joined by Tasman prop Ryan Coxon. The former New Zealand Under 20 representative debuted for the Gallagher Chiefs against the Hurricanes in 2019 and has played four matches for the team.
Athletic lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20, has earned selection following an impressive Mitre 10 Cup campaign for Wellington.
The youngest Gallagher Chiefs squad member has shown his potential holding his own against experienced opposition. South African-born loose forward Dylan Nel has been named in the team for the first time.
The oldest of the rookies at 26, Nel is a busy flanker with a solid work ethic. The skilful Otago number eight was called in as injury cover for the Crusaders in 2017, however, he is yet to make his Investec Super Rugby debut.
Counties Manukau midfielder Orbyn Leger is named in the team for the first time, although he has nine Investec Super Rugby caps to his name. After a call-up into the 2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad as an injury replacement player, the midfielder debuted at first five-eighth in round one against the Highlanders.
The 2020 Gallagher Chiefs squad will start pre-season training at the end of November before their Super Rugby season opener against the Blues at Eden Park on January 31.
The Chiefs will return home in round two to play the Crusaders in their first home game of the season at FMG Stadium Waikato on February 8.
2020 Gallagher Chiefs Squad:
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)
Bradley Slater (Taranaki) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Samisoni Taukei'aho (Waikato)
Ryan Coxon (Tasman) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Atunaisa Moli (Tasman)
Reuben O'Neill (Taranaki)
Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Angus Ta'avao (Auckland)
Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Wellington) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)
Michael Allardice (Hawke's Bay)
Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)
Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
Dylan Nel (Otago) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Lisati Milo-Harris (Taranaki) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)
Brad Weber (Hawke's Bay)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke's Bay)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
Tumua Manu (Auckland)
Alex Nankivell (Tasman)
Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)
Solomon Alaimalo (Waikato)
Sam McNicol (Hawke's Bay)
Kini Naholo (Taranaki) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau).
Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour).
Quinn Tupaea (Waikato) - first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract.
Sean Wainui (Taranaki).