Mitre 10 Cup Preview: Auckland 2020

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Coach: Alama Ieremia

Home ground: Eden Park

2019: Beaten semi finalist

 

Talking points

Auckland have experience returning to the region in 2020 with Simon Hickey (overseas) and Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki) named in the squad and in line to bring up their 50th Auckland cap.

 

Ta’avao will link with fellow All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi up front while Jack Whetton and Scott Scraton are set to combine in the second row and continue their good form from Super Rugby for the Highlanders and Hurricanes respectively.

 

All Blacks Sevens teammates Salesi Rayasi and Caleb Clarke will light up the Auckland backline again this season, the pair were the team’s leading try scorers in 2019.

 

The loss of All Black Dalton Papali’I to neighbouring Counties Manukau will be felt by Auckland, but they have Super Rugby experience in Blake Gibson, Hoskin Sotutu and Akira Ioane and up and coming talent with Adrian Choat and Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa.

 

Three players are second generation Auckland representatives, with Jack Whetton (son of Gary), Hoskins Sotutu (son of Waisake) and Caleb Clarke (son of Eroni) all continuing family tradition.

Incoming players

Simon Hickey, Hamish Dalzell, Tuafa Funaki, Liam Hallam-Eames, Zarn Sullivan, Angus Ta’avao, Sione Tuipulotu and Soane Vikena

 

Outgoing players

Robbie Abel, Lyndon Dunshea, Kurt Heatherley, Dan Kirkpatrick, Taniela Koroi, Jamie Lane, D’Angelo Leuila, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Dalton Papali’I, Cam Suafoa

 

Player to watch

It’s hard to go past Caleb Clarke who has been in career best form in 2020. Off the back of an impressive campaign with the All Blacks Sevens, Clarke made every post a winner in Blues colours with speculation it will be only time until a national call up.

 

Auckland squad

Jarred Adams, Leni Apisai, Adrian Choat, Caleb Clarke, Hamish Dalzell, TJ Faiane, Marco Fepulai, Taufa Funaki, Blake Gibson, Liam Hallam-Eames, Simon Hickey, Alex Hodgman, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, AJ Lam, James Lay, Tumua Manu, Harry Plummer, Salesi Rayasi, Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa, Marcel Renata, Jonathan Ruru, Scott Scrafton, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Hoskins Sotutu, Zarn Sullivan, Angus Ta’avao, Tanielu Tele’a, Jordan Trainor, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sione Tuipulotu, Danny Tusitala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Soana Vikena, Jack Whetton

 

Auckland draw