Canterbury NPC squad named, nine new players included

Reed Prinsep. Photo: Getty
Reed Prinsep. Photo: Getty
Nine new players have been included in the Canterbury NPC squad named on Wednesday.

The side will again be captained by High School Old Boys’ player Reed Prinsep.

"Reed’s a leader,” said co-coach Mark Brown.

"We felt he did a great job for us in the role last year and will continue to lead both on and off the field.

"He sets a great standard for our guys to follow, and he continues to be the right man for the job."

Linwood junior Jono Kitto (halfback) returns home from playing in the UK, HSOB captain Mitch Gibson has been rewarded following a couple of stand out seasons of Canstaff Metro Premier Club rugby, while former Christ’s College  first XV skipper and New Zealand under 20s rep Zac Gallagher (lock) has also earned a spot in the Canterbury NPC side for the first time.

Irish prop Conan O’Donnell joins Sam Stewart (hooker) in the front row. Both have previous NPC experience.

Cameron Bailey has been handed his first full-time contract. Photo: Getty Images
Cameron Bailey has been handed his first full-time contract. Photo: Getty Images
Canterbury sevens rep Cameron Bailey has been handed his first full-time contract fulfilling a lifelong dream for the St Andrew's College old boy.

Former All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo swaps the amber and black of Taranaki for the red and black of Canterbury. The Fijian flyer having returned to New Zealand following a stint at London Irish, having previously spent eight years with Taranaki in the NPC.

Jack Debreczeni, 28, will join Canterbury for the first time, with the former Australian School boy rep having played for Northland in 2018 and 2019.

The squad also includes six current All Blacks - George Bridge, Braydon Ennor, Joe Moody, Richie Mo’unga, Codie Taylor, and Sam Whitelock as well as Fijian international Manasa Mataele and Samoan hardman Henry Stowers.

"We’re really proud of the group of guys we’ve been able to select for this Canterbury squad, but what also makes it really pleasing is the majority of our guys have come through the Canterbury Club system and/or our Academy,” said Brown.

"Twenty-seven of the current 32-man squad selected have all played club rugby in Canterbury and have been part of the Canterbury and Crusaders Academy or age-group representative teams.

"Even guys like Jono Kitto progressed through our local systems and has now returned home to add his experiences to our current group, he’s really excited to be here playing footy again."

Reuben Thorne. Photo: Getty Images
Reuben Thorne. Photo: Getty Images
Co-coach Reuben Thorne said the new players from outside Canterbury will be welcomed because of what they will add and the experience they will bring to the squad. 

"Everyone knows what sort of player Waisake is, he’s played 27 times for the All Blacks and has a wealth of experience at Super and NPC level, so we’re really excited to have him in our squad this year," said Thorne.  

Henry has also played to a high level and produced some standout performances for Samoa in the recent Maori All Blacks series. 

"Henry brings a point of difference to the loose forward mix and we’re excited by the skillset he offers," said Thorne.

He added that the likes of Liam Allan and Mitch Gibson have both had outstanding seasons for their respective clubs and Thorne was looking forward to seeing them take to the park in 2021.

"Liam trained with us all year and to his credit got a taste of Super Rugby during the year too.

"He shifted down here a number of years ago and has pushed really hard for this opportunity and Mitch continues to be a leader for his Old Boys side and has been really consistent, which is something we’re looking for in our squad."

After a couple of seasons with Manawatu, Sam Stewart has made a home for himself at the Christchurch Club.

While named in the squad, Mitchell Dunshea and Tom Christie aren’t expected to feature during the season due to injury.

"Not having those guys will be a real challenge, both are quality rugby players and leaders within the squad, however, it creates opportunities for other members in the squad to step up in that space," Thorne said. 

Canterbury squad

Liam Allen* - Lincoln University
Cameron Bailey* - Christchurch
Finlay Brewis - HSOB
George Bridge** - HSOB
Fergus  Burke - Canterbury University
Tom Christie*** - Christchurch
Sam Darry - HSOB
Jack Debreczeni* - West Melton
Luke Donaldson - Lincoln University
Mitchell Drummond - HSOB
Mitchell Dunshea*** - Springston
Brayden Ennor** - Canterbury University
Chay Fihaki - Burnside
Zach Gallagher* - Burnside
Mitchell Gibson* - HSOB
Cullen Grace - Lincoln University
Billy Harmon - New Brighton
Oliver Jager - New Brighton
Jono Kitto* - Linwood
Shilo Klein - HSOB
Daniel Lienert- Brown - HSOB
Manasa Mataele** - Marist Albion
Brodie  McAlister - Sydenham
Josh McKay - Kaiapoi
Dallas  McLeod - Christchurch
Richie Mo'unga** - Linwood
Joe Moody** - Lincoln
Waisake Naholo* - Sydenham
Fletcher Newell - Lincoln University
Conan O'Donnell* - HSOB
Rameka Poihipi - Lincoln University
Reed Prinsep - HSOB
Isaiah  Punivai - Burnside
Ngatungane - Punivai Prebbleton
Luke Romano - Hurunui
Sam Stewart* - Christchurch
Henry Stowers*/** - Sydenham
Codie Taylor** Sydenham
Samuel Whitelock** - Lincoln University
Tamaiti Williams - Burnside

New cap*
All Black/International**








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