This squad is a XV, as well as a list of honourable mentions, of players who have represented Waikato as well as a foreign international team.

The team has been selected from players with the professional era of rugby, 1987 Rugby World Cup to present.


Deacon Manu played prop for Waikato and the Chiefs, playing 66 and 56 games respectively.


He also played for the Māori All Blacks and played against the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand in 2005.

Four years later Manu made his international debut for Fiji against Scotland. He became a regular captain and captained the side at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Manu played 14 games for Fiji from 2009-2012.

From 2006 till 2014 he played for Welsh club Scarlets amassing 154 games for the side before retiring.

Manu is now very involved in building the game of rugby in Asia and among other roles he is a World Rugby Coach Educator there.

Greg Smith played 70 games for Waikato at hooker between 1995 and 2004.

Smith played for Fiji from 1995-2003 as well, qualifying through his Fijian father. He captained the squad at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Smith was internationally capped 46 times for Fiji from 70 games played for the country.


From 1997-2003 he played 48 games for the Chiefs in the Super 12.

These days he is the referee manager for the Waikato Rugby Union and an athlete life advisor for High Performance Sport New Zealand.

Ben Tameifuna is the nephew of former Hawke's Bay, Chiefs and Tongan prop Sona Taumalolo and has played for those same three teams.

Tameifuna played for Hawke's Bay for two seasons before moving to play for Waikato from 2013-2015.

From 2012-2015 he was a regular player for the Chiefs, appearing 65 times for the Super Rugby team.

Tameifuna was called into the All Blacks squad at the age of 20 in 2012 but never took the field. Five years later he made he international debut for Tonga against Wales.


So far, he has 13 test caps for Tonga and played two of their games at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Since leaving Waikato in 2015, Tameifuna has played for French rugby side Racing 92 and has played just short of 100 games for the club.

Post Rugby World Cup he tipped the scales at 160kg. Racing 92 told him that he had to lose weight in order to take the field for them again.

Ilaitia Savai made his debut for Fiji in 1984 and went on to appear 91 times for the team amassing 38 test caps.

The 1.98 metre lock forward represented Fiji at the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups as well as captaining the side on several occasions.

In 1986 and 1987 Savai played 25 games for Waikato before playing for Queensland from 1987 till 1989.


Savai's last cap for Fiji was in 1995 but he played for Nadi until 1998.

On January 22, 2015 Ilaitia Savai died at the age of 54.

Dominiko Waqaniburotu is a lock and loose forward who represented Waikato for 2009 and 2010.

He made his international debut in 2010 against Australia and was later made captain for the Pacific Nations Cup replacing previous captain Deacon Manu.

In 2018, Waqaniburotu captained Fiji to their first ever win over France then in their next match he captained the side that beat the Māori All Blacks for the first time in over 62 years.

Waqaniburotu was a member of the 2011 and 2015 Fijian Rugby World Cup squads and was the captain of the 2019 Rugby World Cup team.


Rob Gordon was a loose forward who played 17 tests for Japan from 1997-1999 including at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Rob represented Otago from 1986-1987 before returning to Waikato the following season. In the 1990 championship match against Southland he scored five tries while playing number eight, a record that still stands for a forward in the provincial championship.

In 1990 he had been part of the All Blacks tour of France. He played three matches but no international tests.

His brother Steve plus Alan and Gary Whetton also toured with the 1990 All Blacks and they were the first double set of brothers in an All Black tour since the Meads and Clarkes in 1963-1964.

Jack Lam is a cousin of Pat Lam and the nephew to former Highlander Seilala Mapusua.

Lam started his career with the Tasman Mako in 2008 before transferring to Waikato in 2009 where he played until 2013.


He played 53 games for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby and was a regular starter for the team.

In 2013 he claimed his first test cap for Samoa. Since then he has gone on to play 38 tests including at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and captaining the side at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Josh Sole was born in Hamilton to Italian parents in 1980.

Sole represented Waikato over two seasons before heading to Italy to play for Viadana.

He played 47 tests for Italy between 2005 and 2011 scoring four tries. Sole played two games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

He stayed in Italy until 2013 playing with Zebre, then returned to New Zealand to play for the Bay of Plenty Steamers until 2015.


Kevin Putt was a regular halfback for Waikato from 1987-1992 after representing Otago for the three years previous.

Putt moved to South Africa afterwards where he appeared more than a dozen times for the Springboks, although he never played a test match.

He was named on the bench for nine test matches but was kept on the bench by starting halfback Joost van der Westhuizen.

Putt was also a member of the Springbok Sevens team in 1995.

From 1992-1998 he played 138 games for the Natal Sharks and was subsequently named their head coach in 2002.

Since 2014 he has been a housemaster at King's College in Auckland.


Christian Leali'ifano debuted for the Canberra based Brumbies in 2007 and became a regular in their squad until 2019.

He appeared 148 times for the team, scoring 973 points.

Leali'ifano came across the ditch in 2010 to play for Waikato in the ITM Cup and was also regular starter in the team.

His test debut didn't come until 2013 during the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia. He lasted less than a minute on the field as he was knocked out attempting to tackle Lions centre Jonathan Davies.

Leali'ifano is a leukaemia survivor and defied the odds to play at the 2019 Rugby World Cup for Australia.

Sean Maitland just played a single cap for Waikato while he was still at Hamilton Boys' High School in 2006.


He was then recruited by Canterbury where he stayed until 2012, playing 45 times for the province.

From 2008 till 2012 he was also a prominent member of the Crusaders, scoring 23 tries in 54 appearances.

In 2010 he played three matches for the Māori All Blacks.

After the 2012 Super Rugby season Maitland made the move to Scotland, he has since been capped 51 times for Scotland and played on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

He continues to be a part of the Scottish squad in 2020.

Maitland is a cousin of former Wallaby Quade Cooper.


Matthew Cooper played over a century of games for the red, yellow and blacks, scoring 1604 points.

He was a capable fullback and midfielder, mainly known as an All Black as he played on and off for them from 1987 till 1996.

In 1992 he made his international test debut against Ireland scoring 23 points, a record at the time.

Cooper played one match for Croatia in their 1999 Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign before the rule of one country qualifying was introduced. He scored 24 points in this match.

Cooper represented the Highlanders, 1996, and the Chiefs from 1997-1999 in the Super 12 competition.

Since retiring, Cooper was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


He has been the CEO of Sport Waikato since 2001.

Piers Francis was born in England and was a member of the Saracens academy for three years during his teens.

At the age of 18, Francis moved to New Zealand and played ITM Cup rugby for Auckland and Waikato before heading back to England.

He returned to New Zealand in 2015 to play for Counties Manukau, coached by Tana Umaga.

Umaga signed a coaching deal with the Blues for 2016 and Francis headed there too. He played 24 games for the Blues over 2016-2017 before signing a contract back in England with Northampton Saints.

During 2017 the 27 year old played eight games for England.


At the 2019 Rugby World Cup he was penalised for a high tackle against the USA but was cleared by the disciplinary panel.

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Henry Speight was picked for Waikato in his last year at Hamilton Boys' High School in 2008.

He scored eight tries for them in his four seasons with the province.

In 2011 he signed with the Brumbies where he played for nine seasons amassing 122 games and scoring 46 tries.

The Queensland Reds signed him for the 2020 season and his first game of the season was against the Brumbies. Speight scored a try in the match to set a record that made him the only player to score against all 18 Super Rugby teams, past and present.

Jared Payne started his career with Waikato in 2006.


In 2008 he moved to play for the Northland Taniwha where he stayed till 2011, captaining them for the latter three seasons.

In Super Rugby he represented the Chiefs, Crusaders and Blues.

After the 2011 Super Rugby season, Payne moved to Ireland to play for Ulster.

He made his international debut in 2014, then his British and Irish Lions debut on their tour of New Zealand in 2017. Payne started three matches on the tour before succumbing to concussion.

He retired in May 2018 due to the head injury.