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Chiefs Rugby Club to host All Blacks test against Tonga

Waikato rugby fans will have the chance to watch the All Blacks in their final hit-out ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019 when the men in black tackle Tonga at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday, 7 September.

The first All Blacks test match to be played in Hamilton since 2016, the test will be an important match on the eve of the All Blacks’ tilt at a hat-trick of World Cup titles.

FMG Stadium Waikato was chosen to host the test match after a joint proposal led by Chiefs Rugby Club, and in partnership with the Waikato Rugby Union, events company 37 South Events, and stadium operators H3, which is a division of Hamilton City Council.

“It’s very exciting for the Chiefs Rugby Club to be part of a joint regional effort to attract a fantastic test to FMG Stadium Waikato ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup,” Chiefs Rugby Club chief executive Michael Collins said of the match, which will kick off at 2.35pm. 

“The All Blacks haven’t played in Hamilton since 2016, so we’re delighted to have secured such an important match in their 2019 season. And for those of us not able to be in Japan for the World Cup, it will be a unique experience to witness the World Cup squad play at FMG Stadium Waikato.

“We have worked successfully in partnership with 37 South Events and H3 in the past and look forward to continuing that relationship through this match. We don’t often get the chance to work with the Waikato Rugby Union, so this will be a terrific opportunity to collaborate with Blair Foote and his team and deliver a successful test match experience to the wider Waikato public,” Collins said. 

H3 is a division of Hamilton City Council and operates FMG Stadium Waikato on behalf of the people of Hamilton.

Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Blair Foote reiterated Collins’ comments, saying the union was thrilled to be involved with the match.

“It’s very exciting for us and the region to have test match rugby played in Hamilton. We’re really happy to be able to work alongside the Chiefs to bring this match here, and are looking forward to helping provide a great experience for both the All Blacks and Tongan fans.”

Dallas Fisher, managing director of 37 South Events, said they were delighted to be part of a “significant event”.

“Having the All Blacks play here just before the World Cup, and the interest that will generate, is great for the city and the Waikato region,” he said.

“37 South Events are thrilled to be fulfilling our aims of being involved in major events that benefit the community and region.”

* The easiest way to secure a seat to the All Blacks v Tonga test is to become a Chiefs + HSBC NZ Sevens Member.

For new and existing members, a test match ticket will be automatically put on hold and can be bought when the exclusive purchase window opens in mid-2019. Updates will follow, but for the time being there is no action or payment required.

Being a Chiefs + HSBC NZ Sevens Member gives you a ticket to seven Gallagher Chiefs home matches and a two-day pass to the HSBC NZ Sevens. Members also get Gallagher Chiefs merchandise discounts, a season member gift, the chance to attend exclusive events, first rights to finals tickets, and discounted prices over the season.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New players add exciting touch to Gallagher Chiefs

Rising sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo is looking forward to “joining the Chiefs brotherhood” in Super Rugby next year.

The Counties Manukau speedster, who made his debut for the All Blacks Sevens team in 2018, including scoring a try in the side’s Commonwealth Games gold medal win over Fiji, has been named in the Gallagher Chiefs squad for the 2019 Investec Super Rugby season.

Nanai-Seturo, 19, is one of four Gallagher Chiefs squad members who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts in 2019, joining Taranaki and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O’Neill, New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola.

Described by Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper as “very quick, with a great work ethic”, Nanai-Seturo said he was thrilled to earn a Super Rugby contract with the Gallagher Chiefs.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the team,” the former New Zealand Schools representative said. “I’m pretty stoked, but a bit nervous at the same time.”

He said he was excited about bringing his sevens skills to the squad while developing as a 15s player.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into the team environment, training hard, learning from the coaches and players, and being part of the Chiefs brotherhood.”

Taranaki prop O’Neill, 23, has had a rapid rise from provincial player to All Blacks wider squad member without playing a minute of Super Rugby. A versatile prop who can play both sides of the scrum, O’Neill caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors in the Mitre 10 Cup and was named in the wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour.

“I’m really excited and keen to get up there and put my best foot forward,” he said of his inclusion in the Gallagher Chiefs squad.

“I obviously haven’t played Super Rugby before so it’s a whole new level for me, just as being in the All Blacks squad is another level again. But I’m really up for the challenge, and want to keep developing my game – I’m definitely not the finished product so want to pick everyone’s brain, work hard and improve.”

The former New Zealand Schools representative will link up with his former Taranaki coach, Cooper, who said O’Neill was a great addition to the squad.

“He’s a strong scrummager at loosehead and tighthead and through his hard work for Taranaki this season he forced his way into the All Blacks squad. We’re really pleased to have Reuben in the group,” Cooper said.

Lock McWhannell had a stellar New Zealand U20s campaign, which was followed by a strong Mitre 10 Cup season with Waikato. Another player to have come through the New Zealand Schools ranks, the 20-year-old had a taste of Chiefs rugby at the Brisbane 10s tournament this year and said playing Super Rugby with the Gallagher Chiefs had always been a goal.

“I’m stoked. Growing up and going to school in Hamilton, I’ve always wanted to be a Chief, so I’m excited and really keen to get stuck in,” he said.

McWhannell has spent time training with the Gallagher Chiefs, and Cooper said he was an “exciting young player” who would develop under the guidance of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.

“I think having Brodie there, I’ll be able to learn a lot from him,” McWhannell said. “I’m really looking forward to being amongst the squad, learning as much as I can, and hopefully helping the team.”

Cooper said Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola, 22, who they had followed through the Gallagher Chiefs’ connection with the Kobe club in Japan, was an exciting prospect with “huge potential”.

Another two players, who already have Super Rugby experience, are new to the squad.

New Zealand-born utility back Jack Debreczeni, 25, represented Australian Schools and played 42 games for the Melbourne Rebels before returning to New Zealand and impressing for Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

“Jack’s a very experienced player, is versatile and will add to the mix at 10, 12 or 15. He’s also a good kicker and game driver,” Cooper said.

Samoa age-group representative midfielder Tumua Manu, 25, has played for the Blues and has starred for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup this season.

“He’s a quick and physical player – there’s a lot to like about him,” Cooper said.

Strength across the field for Gallagher Chiefs


The 2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad announced today won’t need to look far for inspiration when pulling on the jersey next season.

Star prop Angus Ta’avao was called into the 2018 squad as an injury replacement, but through hard work and perseverance the Taranaki co-captain and former Waratah became an integral member of the team. By September he was donning the All Blacks jersey in his test debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

“It’s an inspiring story for all our players – one of don’t ever give up on your dream,” Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper said when naming his squad for the Investec Super Rugby competition.

“Angus is a great person and a hard-working player and should be an inspiration to all these young men who have been named today.”

Ta’avao is one of eight All Blacks announced in the Gallagher Chiefs squad, joining fellow one-cap All Black Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, and experienced All Blacks Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown, Nathan Harris and Nepo Laulala in a squad that boasts a fine balance of experience, youth, speed, strength and skill.

New Gallagher Chiefs signing, Taranaki prop Reuben O’Neill, who has been named in the All Blacks’ wider squad for the Japanese leg of the end-of-year tour, will also bring international experience into the Super Rugby season, as will Māori All Blacks players Shaun Stevenson, Mitchell Karpik and Brad Weber.

O’Neill is one of four players who will hope to make their Super Rugby debuts in 2019, joining exciting All Blacks Sevens speedster Etene Nanai-Seturo, promising New Zealand U20s lock Laghlan McWhannell, and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola in the Gallagher Chiefs squad.

Another two players, who already have Super Rugby experience, are new to the squad – former Melbourne Rebels utility back Jack Debreczeni, who was with Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup, and Samoa age-group representative midfielder Tumua Manu, who has played for the Blues and performed well for Auckland this season.

Like Ta’avao, midfielder Bailyn Sullivan, loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula, and outside back Sean Wainui all impressed as injury replacements last season and have been rewarded with contracts for 2019.

Cooper, who heads a settled coaching lineup of assistants Neil Barnes, Tabai Matson, Andrew Strawbridge and Nick White, said he was thrilled with a squad that features 26 players from the Chiefs’ provincial unions of Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki, and 31 players who were with the side in 2018.

“It’s a very exciting squad, and it’s great to have a good spread of players from throughout the Chiefs region. We’ve retained a lot of players from this year, including a number of our core leadership group, we’ve brought in a group of exciting and talented new players, and some of our injured players are returning, such as Atu Moli, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Brown and Fin Hoeata, who will all make a big contribution and add a lot of depth,” Cooper said.

“That continuity of players working with a settled second-year coaching group is really important in helping us take another step forward in 2019.”

Cooper congratulated and welcomed the new players to the squad and said the coaching group were eager to get started.

“It’s a great environment here and we’re looking forward to bringing the new players into this group, where they will be looked after in a hard-working environment,” he said.

“We want to make sure everyone is on the waka and paddling in the same direction. If we get that right, the performances will come.”

The Gallagher Chiefs begin their 2019 Investec Super Rugby season with a home game against the Highlanders on Friday, 15 February at FMG Stadium Waikato.

2019 Chiefs Season Memberships go on sale tomorrow, 1 November. The membership includes seven Gallagher Chiefs round robin home games at FMG Stadium Waikato and a two-day pass to the HSBC NZ Sevens in Hamilton. Head to or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

2019 Gallagher Chiefs squad


Kane Hames (Tasman)

Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)

Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)

Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)

Atu Moli (Waikato)

Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)

Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki)


Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)

Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)

Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)


Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay)

Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)

Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)

Michael Allardice (Hawke’s Bay)

Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)

Loose forwards

Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)

Taleni Seu (Auckland)

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)

Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)

Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)

Luke Jacobson (Waikato)

Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)


Brad Weber (Hawke’s Bay)

Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)

Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)

First five-eighths

Damian McKenzie (Waikato)

Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay)

Jack Debreczeni (Northland)


Alex Nankivell (Tasman)

Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)

Tumua Manu (Auckland)

Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)

Outside backs

Solomon Alaimalo (Tasman)

Sean Wainui (Taranaki)

Ataata Moeakiola (Japan)

Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)

Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)

Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)


A new exciting cup will be up for grabs in Chiefs Country for the upcoming Mitre 10 and Farah Palmer Cup seasons with the Mitre 10 Cup getting underway this weekend.

The four Chiefs provincial unions (Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Taranaki and Waikato) now have more than competition points to play for when they face off against each other in their respective national provincial competition, with the Chiefs Country Cup now on the line to be won.

The first opportunity to win the cup will be this weekend when Bay of Plenty take on Taranaki at Rotorua International Stadium. The winner of this match will hold the cup, and it will then be challenged by the next Chiefs provincial union team, regardless whether the holder is playing home or away.

The Farah Palmer Cup fixture between Waikato and Counties Manukau on September 1 will also decide the inaugural holders of the cup in the Women’s competition who will then seek to defend it throughout the season.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union are excited to be the first Provincial Union to host the first challenge for the Chiefs Country Cup against Taranaki this weekend.

Mike Rogers, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO said it is a great initiative to be launched by the Chiefs to connect our four Provincial Unions.

“The cup ensures that the rivalries will be at an all-time high between the four provincial unions with even more on the line to play for and provides a great connection between the Chiefs Rugby Club and the four unions and fans.”

The special cup, designed by Dave Burke represents the Chiefs provincial unions playing in the Mitre 10 Cup through the four respective Kaitaiki’s on the design. The design is symbolic of the shape of a heart, representing that the unions are the heartbeat of the Investec Super Rugby team.

The cup’s design also features a Maunga which symbolises all the mountains in the Chiefs region, as well as the waterway and sacred waters that connect the four regions.

We are pleased to announce that props Aidan Ross and Angus Ta’avao have re-signed with the Gallagher Chiefs.

It is a great boost to the front row with Ross and Ta’avao signing on until 2021 and 2020 respectively.

Aidan Ross is very familiar with the Chiefs environment, having progressed through the University of Waikato Chiefs Development programme before entering the 2018 Investec Super Rugby season with a full contract. The Bay of Plenty prop impressed, playing seven games, before his season was abruptly ended with an ankle injury. The young prop made his debut for the Gallagher Chiefs in 2017 as a squad replacement player against the Western Force, and has gone from strength to strength since.

The front rower was ecstatic to re-sign with the club.

"I’m absolutely stoked to re commit to the Gallagher Chiefs - I couldn’t imagine playing my footy anywhere else and I’m pumped to crack into next season.”

Ross represents Bay of Plenty in the Mitre 10 Cup and has played for the New Zealand U20 team and was also in the squad for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians game against the British & Irish Lions in 2017.

Angus Ta’avao came in to the team as a squad replacement player and was hugely significant throughout the season, playing 17 games and clocking up over 1100 minutes. Ta’avao’s contribution both on and off the field didn’t go unnoticed, picking up the Chiefs Personality Award at the 2018 Gallagher Chiefs Season Celebration.

The 28-year old is vastly experienced, having played for the Blues and Waratahs throughout his career, as well as being a prominent figure for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Ta’avao thoroughly enjoyed his first season with the team and is excited for the seasons to come.

"It’s an exciting time for my family and I as we thoroughly enjoyed our first season with the Chiefs family and it is great to sign on.”

Now in the off-season, the Gallagher Chiefs players will return to their provincial unions for Mitre 10 Cup duties, as well as our All Blacks players who will enter camp ahead of the Investec Rugby Championship. The Mitre 10 Cup kicks off on the 16 August and the All Blacks will play their opening game of the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies on Saturday 18 August in Sydney. 

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Sam Cane
Full Name: Sam Cane
Team: Chiefs
Position:Loose forward
Super Rugby Games:106
Super Rugby Points:60 (12t)
Super Rugby Debut:2011 v Lions in Johannesburg
Province:Bay of Plenty
Provincial Games:19
Provincial Points:25 (5t)
Provincial Debut:2010 v Auckland in Mt Maunganui
Test Caps:50
Test Points:60 (12t)
Test Debut:2012 v Ireland in Christchurch
Facebook ID:456670991114990
Twitter Username:SamCane7
Youtube:Sam Cane

"A player with immense talent and leadership qualities, Sam has been a vital member of the squad for the past seven seasons. Sam has been co-captain of the team with Aaron for the past two seasons."- The Chiefs

Sam enters his seventh season with the Chiefs and is a key part of the team’s leadership co-captaining the side for the third successive season.  On the back of a stellar Super Rugby season in 2016 he collected  the Chiefs Players’ Player of the Year and showed many mature performances in his role as co-captain.   

The talented loose forward has won two Investec Super Rugby titles, the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a U20 Junior World Championship gold medal and is a former New Zealand Rugby Age Group Player of the Year.

If you weren’t a rugby player, what would you be doing?
Guitarist in a rock band

Who was your favourite player as a kid?
Jeff Wilson

What event would you go to the Olympics for … No sevens allowed!
Beach Volleyball

Favourite sportsperson outside rugby?
Roger Federer

Forwards- What position would you put yourself in the backline and why?
Backs- What position would you put yourself in the forward pack and why?

Second Five

What’s your go to meal in the kitchen?
Creamy Chicken Fettucine

What’s your mum’s best meal for her boy?
Roast Lamb

Who is the best singer in the team?
Nathan Harris

Favourite movie quote?
Life is a game of inches, so is football –Al Pacino-Any given Sunday

What would you spend your last $10 on?
Two handles of beer for me and a mate

2018 Investec Super Rugby Table

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