Something old, something new and an extended roster due to those who have put their hand up for sevens at Rio.

Those are the characteristics of the 40-man Chiefs squad for the 2016 Super Rugby season, which includes seven wider training group members.

Pleasingly for coaches Dave Rennie and Andrew Strawbridge and their new assistants Kieran Keane and Neil Barnes, there are 26 from the Chiefs region, plus Brodie Retallick and Brad Weber, both heading back to Hawke's Bay.

Sonny Bill Williams, though he is named on the roster, and Liam Messam, will play no part in Super Rugby due to their focus on the All Blacks Sevens. The latter will also head to Japan for a brief stint post Rugby World Cup.


Halfback Augustine Pulu, on the comeback trail from a broken arm, may also play sevens tournaments before Christmas, but Rennie says he will play roughly half the Chiefs' campaign after being a late call-up to Sir Gordon Tietjens' squad.

Aaron Cruden should be a good to go for pre-season in late November after a long layoff due to a knee injury, and we see the return of 85-game Chief, ANZ ambassador and erstwhile RWC tour guide Stephen Donald, despite a troublesome hamstring that curtailed his Waikato ITM Cup season.

The 14 new faces include New Zealand Under 20 captain, prop Atu Moli, 2014 NZ Schools fullback Shaun Stevenson, 2012 Bronze Boot winner, lock James Tucker, and former Warriors outside back Glen Fisiiahi, whose signing was confirmed several weeks ago. There are several astute signings, such as athletic loose forward/lock Taleni Seu and the in-form former All Blacks lock Dominic Bird, who has ruled the airways in ITM Cup and brought a more physical edge to his rugby.

"It's a very young side, a bit like it was in 2012, but there's enough experience in there to help development," says Rennie, before jetting off to Japan.

Shaun Stevenson (Waikato)
Utility/outside backs:
Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
Glen Fisiiahi (Counties Manukau)
Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty)
Sam McNicol (Wellington)
Toni Pulu (Counties Manukau)
James Lowe (Tasman)
Latu Vaeno (Taranaki)
Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau)
Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau)
Andrew Horrell (Hawke's Bay)
First fives:
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
Stephen Donald (Waikato)
Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato)
Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau)
Brad Weber (Hawke's Bay)
Loose forwards:
Maama Vaipulu (Counties Manukau)
Johan Bardoul (Bay of Plenty)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Mitch Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
Tevita Koloamatangi (Tasman)
Michael Leitch (Japan)
Tom Sanders (Canterbury)
Taleni Seu (Auckland)
Michael Allardice (Hawke's Bay)
Brodie Retallick (Hawke's Bay)
Dominic Bird (Canterbury)
James Tucker (Waikato)
Siate Tokolahi (Canterbury)
Atu Moli (Waikato)
Pauliasi Manu (Counties Manukau)
Nepo Laulala (Canterbury)
Mitch Graham (Taranaki)
Ziggy Fisiihoi (Bay of Plenty)
Hika Elliot (Taranaki)
Rhys Marshall (Taranaki)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)