Week-long Tour will prepare Hong Kong for Asian Championships in May

15th Apr 2016

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) will welcome the University of Waikato Chiefs Development squad on a ten-day tour starting next Monday, 18 April. The highlight of the tour will be a match between Hong Kong and the Chiefs Development squad on Saturday, 23 April, 2016, at Hong Kong Football Club (15:45). That match will be a part of the wider festivities at Hong Kong Football Club next Saturday with the playing of the annual Taipans match fixture.

The Chiefs Development team returns to Hong Kong following last year’s inaugural tour which marked the start of a strategic development partnership formed between the Chiefs Super Rugby Club and the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

During the upcoming tour, the Chiefs Development team will train alongside the Hong Kong national squad and with members of Hong Kong’s wider development player pool prior to the friendly against Hong Kong on Saturday (23 April).

As part of their visit, the Chiefs Development Squad will also visit and train at the new Elite Training Centre at THEi, home of the Elite Rugby Programme, Hong Kong’s first ever professional fifteen-a-side platform.

Dai Rees, HKRU General Manager of Rugby Performance said, “It is very exciting to welcome the Chiefs Development squad as part of our growing partnership. The past year has given both the Chiefs and HKRU the planning time and collaboration opportunities to fully maximise the elite development opportunities for both squads from the tour. The programme also allows Hong Kong’s rugby community to fully engage in the numerous community activities headed by the Chiefs throughout their stay.”

Following joint training sessions over the first five days, the highlight for local rugby supporters will be HKRU XV v Chiefs Development on Saturday, 23 April. The match will assist Hong Kong’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Rugby Championship matches against Korea and Japan in May and June. Chiefs Development players will also participate in community engagement coaching events together with the HKRU for players from the HKRU’s Youth and Mini Rugby communities.

Chiefs High Performance Manager, Chris Tindall, said, “It is great to be returning to Hong Kong with the Chiefs Development team players to continue our rugby development work in partnership with the HKRU following on from our very successful first tour last year.

“This tour is a special opportunity for our players’ learning and development to experience touring as a squad fulltime. It provides a real opportunity for the players to impress on and off the field for future Chiefs selection,” added Tindall.

Talent-laden Chiefs will pose positive test for Hong Kong

Last year’s tour proved beneficial for both squads with Hong Kong going on to capture second place in the Asia Rugby Championship after beating South Korea by a point (38-37) in the away leg at the Namdong Asiad stadium in Incheon.

Following the tour, numerous Chiefs players were called up for senior duties as well as selected into New Zealand’s victorious U20s side for the World Rugby Junior World Cup.

Last years’ Chiefs Development squad in Hong Kong included then Under 20 prop Atu Moli and Under 19 fullback/winger Shaun Stevenson, who after impressing on tour, were contracted to the 2016 Chiefs Super Rugby squad. Both were selected in the starting XV in the recent win over the Blues.

Moli also captained the victorious New Zealand U20s side at the World Rugby Junior World Cup last year after the Hong Kong tour, joining fellow Chiefs Development squad-mates prop Aiden Ross, hooker Liam Polwart and fly-half/fullback Luteru Laulala (brother of All Blacks Casey and Nepo).

The 2016 Chiefs Development squad visiting Hong Kong features 27 players, including several returning tourists from last year and some experienced players from across the Chiefs region of Provincial Union counties of Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki. The squad will again be led by fullback Codey Rei.

Seventeen of the squad played in the New Zealand Provincial Union ITM Cup competition last year.

The 2016 squad includes Chiefs winger Chase Tiatia and replacement players in hooker Liam Polwart, loose forward Mitchell Brown, winger Monty Ioane and previous Super Rugby player Cardiff Vaega.

Shaun Stevenson, prop Ayden Johnstone and lock Fin Hoeata - all of whom were in Hong Kong last year - have been selected in the New Zealand U20 for this year’s Junior World Cup and will miss the tour to Hong Kong as they will be playing against Australia during the tour.

Other Chiefs Development squad members in contention for selection to the U20s include prop Sefo Kautai and hooker Sekope Lopeti.

The touring squad includes three players from the Kobelco Steelers in Japan, prop Hiroya Sawai, halfback Jeongchu Yang and fly-half Hideki Tanabe who are training and developing with the Chiefs under a High Performance partnership between Chiefs and the Kobelco Steelers.

Chiefs Development Squad – Tour of Hong Kong 2016


Aiden Ross (Bay of Plenty)

Hiroya Sawai (Kobelco Steelers)

Sefo Kautai (Waikato)

Jeff Thwaites (Bay of Plenty)

Duke Nginingini (Waikato)


Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)

Sekope Lopeti (Waikato)


Shahn Eru (Bay of Plenty)

Jesse Parate (Taranaki)

Aaron Preest (Waikato)

Loose Forward

Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)

Hayden Anderson (Bay of Plenty)

Henry Stowers (Bay of Plenty)

Josh Dowsing (Waikato)

Viliame Taulani (Counties Manukau)


Te Aihe Toma (Bay of Plenty)

Richard Judd (Counties Manukau)

Jeongchu Yang (Kobelco Steelers)


Hideki Tanabe (Kobelco Steelers)

Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)


Cardiff Vaega (Counties Manukau)

Lalakai Foketi (Bay of Plenty)

Elijah Nicolas (Bay of Plenty)

Outside Back

Chase Tiatia (Bay of Plenty)

Monty Ioane (Bay of Plenty)

Shelford Murray (Waikato)

Cody Rei (Taranaki), CAPTAIN

The University of Waikato Chiefs Development touring team is coached by Dave Dillon, Rodney Gibbs and Rhys Bayliss.

The Hong Kong National Squad to play the Chiefs Development Squad will be announced early next week.