NZ Rugby World - First XV - - SUPER 8 -

While some me­dia and some sup­port­ers may see Ro­torua as ‘dam­aged goods’ af­ter the 2015 el­i­gi­bil­ity saga, the re­al­ity is the First XV will again present a strong side and should com­mand re­spect as the na­tional Top 4 cham­pion. The April trip to the Sanix world tour­na­ment in Ja­pan will have Ngarimu Simp­kins’ charges primed and ready for the Chiefs Cup and Su­per 8. Ro­torua have as many as 15 re­turn­ing, though full­back Isaac Te Aute has left, as have seven oth­ers. “We’ve got some good, young boys com­ing through,” says Simp­kins. “I’m re­ally ex­cited about our plan.” There is an in­ter­est­ing new re­cruit from Levin in open­side flanker Jake Quinn, in a sim­i­lar mould to Jade Hon­ey­combe, who made the Ro­torua No 7 jersey his own for two sea­sons. Then there are hook­ers Raniera Whakataka and Tane Puka, who will com­ple­ment the work of big No 8 Vil­iami Tosi. In the backs watch for half­back Te Ra Whata, cen­tre Hayze Per­ham and Kaleb Trask, at home any­where in the back three.

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