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Waratahs confirm 2017 Super Rugby squad

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New South Wales Super Rugby franchise the Waratahs have confirmed their Super Rugby squad for the upcoming 2017 season.

The Waratahs Super Rugby squad features eight new signings and 12 players who have re-signed in 2016

30 out of 35 players retained, including the return of Damien Fitzpatrick and Sekope Kepu. There are 12 players with international Test experience and 83 per cent were born and / or raised in NSW.

Twenty five per cent born and / or raised in country New South Wales.

The NSW Waratahs are pleased to confirm their 35-man squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season as players officially return to pre-season training this week.

The squad for next year sees 30 out of the 35 players who have been retained, including the return of experienced Waratahs, Sekope Kepu and Damien Fitzpatrick, and 12 who have re-committed to the Club this year.

Twelve players have international Test experience, including Tom Robertson and Tolu Latu who made their Wallabies debuts this year, as well as Paddy Ryan and Taqele Naiyaravoro who have both recently been called back in to the Australian squad. Current Wallabies development players, Andrew Kellaway and Jack Dempsey remain part of the Tahs after both re-signing this year.

The team features eight new signings, including promising young flyhalf, Mack Mason who has been handed a supplementary squad contract, together with standout NSW Country Eagles representatives, prop, Sam Needs and flyhalf, Andrew Deegan, who has been promoted from a development contract.

Once again the team is filled with players who are proud to call NSW home, with 83 per cent having been born and/or grown up across the state. This includes 25 per cent who were born and / or raised in country NSW towns, including Dubbo, Tamworth, Coonamble, Wellington, Orange, Taree and Yamba.

NSW Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said he was looking forward to seeing how the team comes together ahead of what will be another big season of Super Rugby in 2017.

“We have retained a great mix of youth and experience for next season; players who are keen and determined and will no doubt add new energy to the team in 2017,” Gibson said.

“You only have to look back at the success of our rookies this year, in both the Super Rugby and NRC, to see the potential of the talent that we have. I am very confident in the abilities of these new players as they will no doubt add to the competition for spots.

“At the same time we have grown our leadership capacity with an emerging set of new leaders to support Michael Hooper and carry the legacy and culture that form the foundations of this Club.

“Our players are proud to represent NSW and enjoy the responsibility that comes with pulling on the jersey. We want to continue to use this to create an environment that we want to be part of and for them to take ownership of the team.

“It is pleasing to see the team made up of so much local talent. This is a true reflection of the NSW rugby pathways system, which continues to go from strength to strength as we renew our focus on the grassroots with the recent amalgamation of the community and professional arms of the organisation.”

Buildcorp NRC Player of the Year and Shute Shield Rookie of the Year, Irae Simone has been offered an extended playing squad contract, joining his Northern Suburbs Club teammate, Michael Wells who signed a full contract earlier this year. Both starred in the team’s first Shute Shield Championship title in 41 years this season.

Lock, Leon Power who signed with the Waratahs in August has been released from the squad to undergo knee surgery after suffering an ACL injury in the ITM Cup. A replacement lock will be named in due course.

A number of non-contracted players have also been invited to join as part of the extended training squad following standout performances in the NSW Buildcorp NRC teams, including Western Sydney Rams, Tyrone Viiga, Dave Lolohea, and Brandon Paenga-Amosa, as well as NSW Country Eagles’, Mitch Short and Sydney Rays’, Rory O’Connor.

The NSW Waratahs will kick off their season with three trial matches, two of which will be home games at Mudgee and Brookvale before their Super Rugby campaign officially commences on Saturday 25th February against the Western Force at Allianz Stadium.

2017 NSW Waratahs 36-man squad

Props
Sekope Kepu* – new signing / re-signed
Sam Needs – new signing, supplementary squad
Tom Robertson* – re-signed in 2016
Paddy Ryan* – re-signed in 2016
Matt Sandell – re-signed in 2016, promoted from extended playing squad to full contract
Angus Ta’avao

Hookers
Damien Fitzpatrick – new signing / re-signed
Tolu Latu*
Hugh Roach – re-signed in 2016

Locks
Ned Hanigan
Ryan McCauley – extended playing squad
Dean Mumm*
Will Skelton*
Senio Toleafoa – promoted from supplementary to extended playing squad
One to be announced

Flankers / no. 8
Jack Dempsey – re-signed in 2016
Jed Holloway – re-signed in 2016
Michael Hooper*
Michael Wells – new signing
Brad Wilkin

Scrumhalves
Jake Gordon – extended playing squad
Matt Lucas
Nick Phipps*

Fly-halves
Andrew Deegan – supplementary squad
Bernard Foley*
Bryce Hegarty
Mack Mason – new signing, supplementary squad

Centres
Israel Folau*
Irae Simone – new signing, extended playing squad
Rob Horne*
David Horwitz

Back three
Cameron Clark – new signing
Harry Jones – promoted from supplementary to extended playing squad contract
Taqele Naiyaravoro* – re-signed in 2016
Andrew Kellaway – re-signed in 2016
Reece Robinson

*denotes international Test experience

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