A number of additional players assembled with the squad for preseason training last week. With the Maori All Black and All Black players assembling late following their respective tours plus, a number of players coming into the preseason with injuries, opportunity is created for an extended group of players.
The 13 current replacement players are Mikey Tamoaieta (North Harbour), Luatangi Li (North Harbour), Danny Drake (North Harbour), Evan Olmstead (Auckland), Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (Auckland), Matt Matich (Northland), Jono Kitto (Northland), Lewis Gjaltema (North Harbour), Jack Heighton (North Harbour), Harrison Groundwater (North Harbour) Hawaii Ahokovi (Auckland), Tomas Aoake (Tasman) and Mark Telea (North Harbour).
General Manager High Performance, Tony Hanks said “Our replacement players play a significant role and the group is already making a positive contribution and training hard. With the growing demands of the Super Rugby competition, having an extended group of players ready perform at Super Rugby level is critical. In 2018 we had 29 replacement players assemble with us at various times and 12 were selected to play in competition games. For current squad members like Marcel Renata and Tom Robinson the interim training contract proved to be a valuable platform in their push for full contracts’.
In addition to the replacement group, two young players from the Blues Under-20s who have recently been selected for the New Zealand Under-20 training squad, will join the Blues for 10 weeks fulltime training as part of the Interim Training Contract scheme. They are Rob Cobb (Auckland) and Brad McNaughten (North Harbour). Scott Gregory (Northland) is currently with the NZ Sevens team.