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North Harbour name impressive squad for ITM Cup

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harbourrugby.co.nz     30 Jul 2014     Getty Images

Ten debutants have been selected alongside a number of players who have featured for New Zealand Super Rugby franchises this year.

Jackson said he’s pleased with the mix of players he has at his disposal in his first season at the helm.

“We have some exciting prospects out wide, in particular Tevita Li who had an outstanding season with the Blues, and also Pita Ahki and Nafi Tuitavake. Then there’s the experienced Hayden Triggs and Daniel Halangahu who come into the squad. So that flair in the backline combined with a hard working forward pack makes me pretty excited about this season.”

Silverdale first five eighth Matt McGahan, son of former Kiwis rugby league representative Hugh McGahan, is one of many players who caught the selectors eye during a strong club season.

“Matt has come back to union from rugby league after being in the Melbourne Storm set up and since then he’s just ticked all the boxes. He’s a good man on and off the field, and Alex [O’Dowd] and I are really looking forward to working with him,” said Jackson.

Another new addition is Southland and Chiefs utility back Robbie Robinson, who’s year so far has been plagued by an injured hip.

Jackson’s been impressed by his attitude and desire to get back on the field.

“Robbie’s pushing himself to be fit for game one of the ITM Cup. He’s added so much value to the group off the field already and he’s only been here a short while.

“He’s back into some off feet training at the moment, he’s determined to get himself right. Robbie’s putting in the hard yards with our trainer to get to where he needs to be to take the field against Otago on the 16th of August,” said Jackson.

Experienced North Harbour prop Ben Afeaki has had an equally frustrating season to Robinson, after suffering concussion symtomps throughout the Super Rugby season.

“There’s no real timeline for Ben. He’s just a week by week case at the moment. We’ll give him every opportunity to get himself right because at the end of the day his health is more important. If he’s not involved on the field he’ll certainly add a lot off value off the field, and I’m sure him just being in the environment will rub off on the rest of the players and be a good vibe for our team,” said Jackson.

The team will assemble next week ahead of a pre-season games against Waikato and Counties Manukau before preparing to take on the All Blacks and Northland in a triple header at QBE Stadium on August 8th.

ITM Cup Squad 2014:

Pita Ahki (Massey)
Ben Afeaki (Marist)
David Bason* (Western)
Rodrigo Costa* (Massey)
Luke Devcich (Marist)
James Doyle* (Northcote)
Michael Farmer (Western)
Irwin Finau (Mahurangi)
Daniel Halangahu* (Sydney Uni)
Bryn Hall (Northcote)
Luke Hamilton (North Shore)
Zak Judge (ECB)
Tevita Li (Massey)
Michael Little (Western)
Sione Mafileo* (North Shore)
Jordan Manihera (Silverdale)
Matt McGahan* (Silverdale)
Nic Mayhew (Northcote)
Brandon Nansen (North Shore)
Ray Nuia (Massey)
James Parsons (Takapuna)
Greg Pleasants Tate (Takapuna)
David Raikuna (Takapuna)
Nio Ratumaitavuki (Massey)
Robbie Robinson*
Adrian Smith (Massey)
Marty Swart* (ECB)
Hayden Triggs* (North Shore)
Nafi Tuitavake (Massey)
Jona Tuitoga (ECB)
Jim Tuivaiiti (Western)
Chris Vui* (Massey)
Tony Woodcock (Marist)
Alex Woonton (North Shore)

Uncapped Harbour players are starred.