Chiefs scouts snap up Taranaki talent
Club and representative commitments will have to be juggled for eight Taranaki players who have been named in the Chiefs development squad.
The squad will train once a week in Hamilton and play six matches from March through to May, including games against the Blues and Hurricanes development sides, as well as the New Zealand under-20 team.
Prop Ryan Cocker, loose forwards Lachlan Boshier and Toa Halafihi, first five-eighth Beaudein Waaka, new Taranaki academy midfielder Sean Wainui, wings Lewis Ormond and Seta Tamanivalu and new Taranaki recruit Marty McKenzie will come under the guidance of coaches Jonny Walters, Leo Crowley, Carl Hoeft and Dave Dillon.
As well as their Chiefs commitments, Waaka, Boshier and Ormond also have New Zealand under-20 trials and camps to fit into their schedules.
A large number of the squad have already played national provincial championship rugby.
"There is a real focus on youth in the [Chiefs] region and they have been scouting the whole time," Taranaki Rugby Football Union high performance manager Jono Phillips said.
"They then give those players as much opportunity as possible to play in the development games."
While the entire development squad were training once a week together, a match-day squad of 23 would be selected prior to each game, with the remaining players not required to travel north.
All of the representative matches will be played midweek, allowing the players to still be available for their clubs on weekends.
"We've had a good chat with the boys and they are really committed to it," Phillips said.
"It's a good opportunity for the guys to get on a stage at this time of the year because they will receive some great coaching. The first session they received was from all the Chiefs coaches, which is just awesome for their development."
AT A GLANCE CHIEFS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD: Props, Pingi Tala'apitaga (Bay Of Plenty), Jarrod Firth (Counties Manukau), Ryan Cocker (Taranaki), Atu Moli (Waikato), Joe Walsh (Waikato), Loni Uhila (Waikato), Aiseli Pulu (Counties Manukau); hookers, Joe Royal (Bay Of Plenty), Hame Faiva (Waikato), Tau Koloamatangi (Waikato), Suliasi Taufalele (Counties Manukau), Stephen Misa (Waikato), Ruakawa Neems (Waikato); locks, David Morgan (Waikato), Sam Kilgour (Waikato), Viliame Raraesa (Counties Manukau), Troy Callendar (Bay Of Plenty), Beau Williams (Bay Of Plenty), Luke Katene (Waikato); loose forwards, James Tucker (Waikato), Josh Tyrell (Waikato), Hamish Gosling (Bay Of Plenty), Whetu Douglas (Waikato), Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), Toa Halafihi (Taranaki), Valentino Mapapalangi (Waikato), Mungo Mason (Waikato); halfbacks, Jono Kitto (Bay Of Plenty), Te Aihe Toma (Bay Of Plenty), Harrison Leviene (Waikato), George Taina (Counties Manukau); first five-eight, Wharenui Hawera (Waikato), Beaudein Waaka (Taranaki), Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Bryn Gatland (Waikato), Dan Hollinshead (Bay Of Plenty); midfield, Jordan Payne (Waikato), Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau), Elijah Nicholas (Bay Of Plenty), Teddy Stanaway (Bay Of Plenty), Joseph Ikenasio (Counties Manukau), Sean Wainui (Taranaki); wingers, Regan Ware (Waikato), Issac Te Tamaki (Waikato), Lewis Ormand (Taranaki), Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki); fullbacks, Leroy Van Dam (Bay Of Plenty), Marty McKenzie (Taranaki), Jarrod Page (Counties Manukau).
Taranaki Daily News