The 2016 season will see 33 newcomers from New Zealand featuring in Vodacom Super Rugby for the first time.
A total of 195 contracted players were named among the five Kiwi teams, including 22 World Cup participants such as Kieran Read (Crusaders), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Jerome Kaino (Blues), Victor Vito (Hurricanes) and Ben Smith (Highlanders).
However, there will also be a number of debutants, including 11 who were part of this year's New Zealand U20 world champion side.
‘The fact they have picked up Super Rugby contracts at a young age is just fantastic,’ New Zealand rugby’s general manager Neil Sorensen commented. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing them performing out on the field – not only in the coming season, but in the years ahead. As we witness the retirement of some of New Zealand's finest ever players, I’m sure we will see many future legends of New Zealand rugby emerge.’
The 2016 Super Rugby season will kick off on 26 February when reigning champs, the Highlanders, take on the Blues in Auckland.
New Zealand Super Rugby squads:
Blues – Josh Bekhuis, Dan Bowden, Matt Duffie, Joe Edwards, TJ Faiane, Charlie Faumuina, Piers Francis, Blake Gibson, Billy Guyton, Bryn Hall, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Ben Lam, Tevita Li, Michael Little, Steven Luatua, Quentin MacDonald, Matt McGahan, Sione Mafileo, Hoani Matenga, Nic Mayhew, George Moala, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai, Sam Nock, James Parsons, Sam Prattley, Kara Pryor, Rene Ranger, Jack Ram, Scott Scrafton, Jordan Trainor, Gerrard Tuioti-Mariner, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Lolagi Visinia, Namatahi Waa, Ihaia West.
Chiefs – Michael Allardice, Johan Bardoul, Dominic Bird, Sam Cane, Stephen Donald, Aaron Cruden, Hika Elliot, Glen Fisiiahi, Siegfried Fisiihoi, Mitchell Graham, Nathan Harris, Andrew Horrell, Mitchell Karpik, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tevita Koloamatangi, Nepo Laulala, Michael Leitch, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Pauliasi Manu, Rhys Marshall, Damian McKenzie, Sam McNicol, Atu Moli, Charlie Ngatai, Augustine Pulu, Toni Pulu, Brodie Retallick, Tom Sanders, Teleni Seu, Shaun Stevenson, Seta Tamanivalu, Chase Tiatia, Siate Tokolahi, James Tucker, Ma'ama Vaipulu, Latu Vaeno, Sam Vaka, Brad Weber, Sonny Bill Williams.
Crusaders – Michael Ala'alatoa, Scott Barrett, Jed Brown (medical exemption), Tim Boys, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg (medical exemption), Mitchell Drummond, Andy Ellis, Sione Fifita, Kieron Fonotia, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Jack Goodhue (medical exemption), David Havili, Mitchell Hunt, Alex Hodgman, Nemani Nadolo, Jone Macilai, Marty Mckenzie, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Richie Mo'unga, Tim Perry (medical exemption), Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Ged Robinson, Pete Samu, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, Ben Volavola, Sean Wainui, Sam Whitelock.
Highlanders – Alex Ainley, Marty Banks, Richard Buckman, Shane Christie, Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Elliot Dixon, Brendon Edmonds, Jason Emery, Matt Faddes, Malakai Fekitoa, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Ross Geldenhuys, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Jackson Hemopo, Josh Hohneck, Daniel Lienert-Brown, James Lentjes, Craig Millar, Waisake Naholo, Patrick Osborne, Hayden Parker, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Dan Pryor, Mark Reddish, Josh Renton, Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Liam Squire, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Ryan Tongia, Teihorangi Walden, Luke Whitelock, Joe Wheeler.
Hurricanes – Mark Abbott, Pita Ahki, Leni Apisai, Vince Aso, Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, James Broadhurst, Dane Coles, Geoffrey Cridge, Chris Eves, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Reggie Goodes, Willis Halaholo, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Cory Jane, Tony Lamborn, Ngani Laumape, Christian Lloyd, James Marshall, Motu Matu'u, Ben May, Nehe Milner-Skudder, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Hugh Renton, Hisa Sasagi, Ardie Savea, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Blade Thomson, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Loni Uhila, TJ Va'a, Victor Vito, Jason Woodward.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images