New Zealand Rugby Media Release
The New Zealand Heartland XV 2016 squad has been selected ahead of a three-match campaign starting in November, including two games in Fiji.
The matches, to be played between 5–11 November, will see the team play New Zealand Marist for the annual Ian McCrae Cup before travelling to Fiji to play Nadi and Nadroga.
The 26-man New Zealand Heartland XV squad, which has been selected from the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship 2016, sees 11 of the 12 Heartland Provincial Unions represented.
The New Zealand Heartland XV squad is:
Dan Hytongue * (Buller)
James Lash (Buller)
Aaron Lahmert * (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Willie Paia'aua * (Horowhenua Kapiti)
Scott Cameron * (Horowhenua Kapiti)
James Hemara (King Country)
Zayn Tipping (King Country)
John Koko * (King Country)
Aarin Dunster (King Country)
Jackson Donlan (Mid Canterbury)
Maleli Sau * (Mid Canterbury)
Nete Caucau * (Mid Canterbury)
Ralph Darling (North Otago)
Lemi Masoe (North Otago)
Everard Reid * (Poverty Bay)
Siosiua Moala * (Poverty Bay)
Timaru Tafa (South Canterbury)
Kieran Coll * (South Canterbury)
Hayden Wisnewski * (Thames Valley)
Eddie Cranston * (Wairarapa Bush)
Sam Monaghan (Wairarapa Bush)
Lindsay Horrocks (Wanganui)
Peter Rowe (Wanganui)
Viki Tofa * (Wanganui)
Te Rangatira Waitokia * (Wanganui)
Josh Manning * (West Coast)
The team has 15 new caps (denoted by *) and 12 players will be running out in Meads Cup and Lochore Cup Finals this weekend.
The squad includes 20 year old winger Te Rangatira Waitokia from Wanganui, who is Mitre 10 Heartland Competition top try scorer and James Lash from Buller who is top points scorer.
South Canterbury’s Barry Matthews and Poverty Bay’s Mutu Ngarimu will coach the team.
Matthews said he expects the Heartland XV to be competitive in their upcoming fixtures.
“We’ve picked the team on form. It doesn’t matter if you are an 18 year old selected for the first time or a 36 year old war horse, if they are playing good rugby then we have picked them for the team.
“The Heartland competition is getting better every year. It proves the competitiveness of the competition that eleven of the provincial teams are represented in the squad.
“The team will only come together next week so we will need to keep the game plan simple. That said, we have a big forward pack and some exciting backs so we will want to use the ball a bit.
“We are looking forward to the annual clash with New Zealand Marist for the McCrae Cup. It’s always a close game and will be a good warm up for the games in Fiji.
“The games in Fiji will be tough. Fiji loves its rugby and after winning the 7s gold in Rio they will confident heading into these games.”
The New Zealand Heartland XV squad will assemble in Auckland on 2 November ahead of their first match on 5 November.