NSW Waratahs add new names to 2017 playing squad
The NSW Waratahs have confirmed their 35-man squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season as players officially return to pre-season training this week.
Australia U20s flyhalf Mack Mason has signed a supplementary contract, while Northern Suburbs pair Irae Simone and Michael Wells have also been signed after leading the Shoreman to a Shute Shield premiership this year.
A number of non-contracted Shute Shield players have also been invited to join an extended training squad including Parramatta forwards Tyrone Viiga and Dave Lolohea, Southern Districts hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Randwick halfback Mitch Short and Warringah prop Rory O’Connor.
The squad for next year sees 30 out of the 35 players who have been retained, including the return of experienced Waratahs, Sekope Kepu and Damien Fitzpatrick, and 12 who have re-committed to the Club this year.
Twelve players have international Test experience, including Tom Robertson and Tolu Latu who made their Wallabies debuts this year, as well as Paddy Ryan and Taqele Naiyaravoro who have both recently been called back in to the Australian squad. Current Wallabies development players, Andrew Kellaway and Jack Dempsey remain part of the Tahs after both re-signing this year.
NSW Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said he was looking forward to seeing how the team comes together ahead of what will be another big season of Super Rugby in 2017.
“We have retained a great mix of youth and experience for next season; players who are keen and determined and will no doubt add new energy to the team in 2017,” Gibson said.
“You only have to look back at the success of our rookies this year, in both the Super Rugby and NRC, to see the potential of the talent that we have. I am very confident in the abilities of these new players as they will no doubt add to the competition for spots.
“At the same time we have grown our leadership capacity with an emerging set of new leaders to support Michael Hooper and carry the legacy and culture that form the foundations of this Club.
“Our players are proud to represent NSW and enjoy the responsibility that comes with pulling on the jersey. We want to continue to use this to create an environment that we want to be part of and for them to take ownership of the team.
“It is pleasing to see the team made up of so much local talent. This is a true reflection of the NSW rugby pathways system, which continues to go from strength to strength as we renew our focus on the grassroots with the recent amalgamation of the community and professional arms of the organisation.”
Lock Leon Power who signed with the Waratahs in August has been released from the squad to undergo knee surgery after suffering an ACL injury in the ITM Cup. A replacement is to be named.
The NSW Waratahs will play trials at Mudgee and Brookvale before opening their Super Rugby campaign against the Western Force in Sydney on Saturday, February 25.
2017 NSW Waratahs 36-man squad
Sekope Kepu* – new signing / re-signed
Sam Needs – new signing, supplementary squad
Tom Robertson* – re-signed in 2016
Paddy Ryan* – re-signed in 2016
Matt Sandell – re-signed in 2016, promoted from extended playing squad to full contract
Damien Fitzpatrick – new signing / re-signed
Hugh Roach – re-signed in 2016
Ryan McCauley – extended playing squad
Senio Toleafoa – promoted from supplementary to extended playing squad
One to be announced
Flankers / no. 8
Jack Dempsey – re-signed in 2016
Jed Holloway – re-signed in 2016
Michael Wells – new signing
Jake Gordon – extended playing squad
Andrew Deegan – supplementary squad
Mack Mason – new signing, supplementary squad
Irae Simone – new signing, extended playing squad
Cameron Clark – new signing
Harry Jones – promoted from supplementary to extended playing squad contract
Taqele Naiyaravoro* – re-signed in 2016
Andrew Kellaway – re-signed in 2016