Rebels star named in Northland squad for 2018

Getty Images

Wednesday, July 25, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

With his sights on their opening game against North Harbour at Albany on August 16, Witcombe has named a 34-man squad, which includes a healthy number of players to have emerged from the Northland club competition.


But probably the most notable feature of his side is the choice of Melbourne Rebels first five-eighths Jack Debreczeni. Auckland-born, Debreczeni represented Australian Schoolboys, and played for Melbourne Rising in the Australia provincial competition and spent last season with Honda Heat in Japan. He has played 53 Super Rugby games for the Rebels and scored 243 points.

Dan Hawkins and Peter Breen shared the role last season, but the Australian will head the position with Kamo's Myles Thoroughgood and Wellsford's Tim Blundell backing him up.

The side will look to their players with Investec Super Rugby exposure to give them their core. Hooker Matt Moulds saw action with the Blues again this year while Ross Wright, the longest-serving Northland player in the side, also had time with the Blues.

Lock Josh Goodhue was another member of the Blues squad as was loose forward Kara Pryor.

Blues halfback Sam Nock will be a crucial player in his position while in the backline, if not required for international duty, Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue can be expected to play a big part in the side's attack. Joining him in a utility role is former All Black Rene Ranger. Regan Verney, Taranaki-born but who played 11 games for Wellington last year, and who was in the Chiefs wider training squad, has also been named for the midfield.

Tamati Tua, a member of the World Cup-winning NZ Under-20 side in 2017, is another member of the wider Blues squad and will be joined by locals Scott Gregory and Blake Hohaia.

Jordan Hyland has 29 appearances for the side and made several appearances for the Blues when called into the side as an injury replacement. He is a damaging runner on the wing and if given plenty of ball can be expected to provide issues for opposing defences.

Missing from last season's line-up will be loose forward Dan Pryor, who is playing in Japan while wing/fullback Solomon Alaimalo has chosen to play for the Tasman Makos this year. Jone Macilai was named in the squad but will be absent due to a broken leg.

Witcombe will be looking to build strength up front with four newcomers, Paddy Joe Atkins, Isileli Tuungafasi, Jack Straker and Boyd Wiggins, named for propping duties. Fijian Ropate Rinakama played 10 games last year.

Murray Douglas, who can also play on the blindside flank, Tom Robinson and Temo Mayanavanua will round out the locking options while in the loose Chiefs squad member Matt Matich will join Pryor and Jaycob Matiu and Sam McNamara.

Renata Roberts-Te Nana has also won a place on the wing while Matt Wright, with 38 appearances for Northland, will be at fullback.

The Northland squad is:
Jordan Olsen, Matt Moulds, Ross Wright, Ropate Rinakama, Jack Straker, Isileli Tuungafasi, Paddy-Joe Atkins, Boyd Wiggins, Joshua Goodhue, Murray Douglas, Temo Mayanavanua, Tom Robinson, Matt Matich, Kara Pryor, Kane Jacobson, Jaycob Matiu, Sam McNamara, Sam Nock, Jono Kitto, Mac Sykes, Jack Debreczeni, Myles Thoroughgood, Tim Blundell, Jack Goodhue, Scott Gregory, Blake Hohaia, Tamati Tua, Regan Verney, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jone Macilai, Renata Roberts-Te Nana, Matt Wright, Noah Cooper.