Michael Hooper will return to Australia for the first season of Super Rugby Pacific, the Wallabies captain one of a group of stars returning home.
Hooper, who enjoyed a sensational 2021 to earn a nomination for World Rugby’s Player of the Year, caused a stir by going to Japan on a sabbatical, signing with Top League side Toyota Verblitz for the 2020-21 season. However, the veteran has opted to return to the Waratahs in 2022, hoping to add to his 121 career games for the club that peaked with their 2014 Super Rugby final win.
The captain is one of three Wallabies to be returning to the Super Rugby competition after stints abroad. Lock Izack Rodda will line up for the Western Force after a year with French Top 14 team Lyon; while the Rebels welcome back Matt Philip after also heading to France to play with Pau for 2020-21.
Former Wallabies Christian Leali’ifano and Sekope Kepu are the boom recruits for new side Moana Pasifika; while over in New Zealand, Beauden Barrett joins Hooper in returning from Japan to reigning Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions the Blues.
NRL star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will also bolster the Blues’ line-up, beginning his code switch in Auckland.
Here is the full squad for every Super Rugby Pacific side for the 2022 season, with all the talking points and big moves you need to know ahead of what looms as a blockbuster season.
Props: Allan Alaalatoa, Fred Kaihea, Sefo Kautai, Tom Ross, James Slipper, Scott Sio
Hookers: Folau Fainga’a, Lachlan Lonergan, Connal McInerney, Billy Pollard
Locks: Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain
Back-row: Jahrome Brown, Ed Kennedy, Luke Reimer, Pete Samu, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini
Halfbacks: Lachie Albert, Ryan Lonergan, Nic White
Fly-halves: Rodney Iona, Noah Lolesio
Centres: Hudson Creighton, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Ollie Sapsford
Outside backs: Tom Banks, Cam Clark, Jesse Mogg, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright
The Brumbies have lost former NRL player Solomone Kata for the new season, with the 26-year old choosing to stay in New Zealand for family reasons rather than risk more COVID-19 enforced border closures. He’s since been snapped up by new team Moana Pasifika.
Former Wallaby Chris Feauai-Sautia headlines the list of ins, having made the move to French team Oyonnax for the 2021 season after being shockingly cut from the Reds’ squad. Cult hero Jesse Mogg also returns to the nation’s capital after six years in France.
Props: Cabous Eloff, Pone Faamausili, Matt Gibbon, Cameron Orr, Rhys Van Nek
Hookers: James Hanson, Efi Maafu, Jordan Uelese
Locks: Ross Haylett-Petty, Trevor Hosea, Tom Nowlan, Matt Philip
Back-row: Richard Hardwick, Tamati Ioane, Josh Kemeny, Rob Leota, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin
Halfbacks: Joe Powell, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle
Fly-halves: Carter Gordon
Centres: Stacey Ili, Ray Nu’u, Young Tonumaipea, Matt To’omua, Jeral Skelton
Outside backs: Lachlan Anderson, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Joe Pincus, Ilikena Vudogo
Philip’s return from his France sojourn is the major boom for the Rebels heading into the off-season, the lock returning to Melbourne to add to his 46 games for the team.
His international experience will come in handy after the Rebels lost star veteran and fellow Wallaby Marika Koroibete to Top League team Panasonic Wild Knights. Adding to Frank Lomani’s departure to Premiership side Northampton and Dane Haylett-Petty’s concussion-enforced retirement, the Rebels have lost plenty of star power heading into 2022.
Props: Angus Bell, Tiaan Taukipulu, Te Tera Faulkner, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Ruan Smith, Archer Holz
Hookers: David Porecki, Tom Horton
Locks: Max Douglas, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan, Hugh Bokenham, Jeremy Williams
Back-row: Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Lachie Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Hugh Sinclair, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson
Halfbacks: Jack Grant, Jake Gordon, Henry Robertson
Fly-halves: Will Harrison, Tane Edmed, Ben Donaldson
Centres: Joey Walton, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Mosese Tuipulotu
Outside backs: Mark Nawaqanitawase, Alex Newsome, James Ramm, Tristan Reilly, Tevita Funa, Dylan Pietsch
After a 2021 from the blackest depths of rugby hell, Hooper’s return is a vital boost for the Waratahs as they look to rebound. Code-hopping Tevita Funa, who had two years on the fringe of the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL, will also be wearing blue next season.
In a blow, Jack Maddocks will leave a gaping hole in the backline after departing to join Pau in the Top 14. New coach Darren Coleman has plenty to do to turn things around at the once-proud club.
Props: George Blake, Feao Fotuaika, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Taniela Tupou, Dane Zander
Hookers: Richie Asiata, Alex Mafi, Josh Nasser
Locks: Angus Blyth, Lopeti Faifua, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima
Back-row: Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Uru, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright
Halfbacks: Spencer Jeans, Tate McDermott, Kalani Thomas
Fly-halves: Lawson Creighton, Tom Lynagh, James O’Connor
Centres: Josh Flook, Isaac Henry, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart
Outside backs: Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Ilaisa Droasese, Mac Grealy, Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu
The Super Rugby AU champions welcome Tom Lynagh, son of Wallabies legend Michael, to their squad for the 2022 season.
Popular hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa will be difficult to replace, after the Wallaby bid an emotional farewell to Australian rugby to play with Top 14 team Montpellier. Utility Bryce Hegarty will also be missed as he heads to Premiership side Leicester.
Props: Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Harry Lloyd, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Angus Wagner
Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester
Locks: Ryan McCauley, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jackson Pugh, Izack Rodda, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush
Back-row: Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander
Halfbacks: Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa, Michael McDonald, Ian Prior
Fly-halves: Jake McIntrye, Reejan Pasitoa
Centres: Kyle Godwin, Richard Kahui, Bayley Kuenzle, Grason Makara
Outside backs: Daniel Ala, Brad Lacey, Manasa Mataele, Jack McGregor, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan, Reece Tapine
Wallabies lock Izack Rodda is back in Australia, after his controversial departure from the Reds in 2020 after refusing to accept an industry-wide pay cut.
Having headed to France, he now returns to bolster the Force’s forwards pack.
Props: Haereiti Hetet, Jone Koroiduadua, Meli Tuni, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Manasa Saulo, Samuela Tawake
Hookers: Mesu Dolokoto, Tevita Ikanivere, Zuriel Togiatama
Locks: Chris Minimbi, Ratu Rotuisolia, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Viliame Rarasea, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta
Back-row: Joseva Tamani, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi, Nemani Nagusa, Raikabula Momoedonu, Rusiate Nasove, Vilive Miramira
Halfbacks: Leone Nawai, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli
Fly-halves: Teti Tela, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre
Centres: Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Kalione Nasoko, Seru Vularika
Outside backs: Onisi Ratave, Vinaya Habosi, Kitione Taliga, Napolioni Bolaca
The new kids on the block for 2022, the Drua have signed a swathe of Fijian internationals heading into their first Super Rugby season.
Mesulame Dolokoto, Teti Tela and Haereiti Hetet are among the inclusions, as new coach Mick Byrne, once a skills coach for both the Wallabies and All Blacks, looks to build a competitive side.
Props: Alex Hodgman, Jordan Lay, Ofa Tuungafasi, Marcel Renata, Nepo Laulala, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Hookers: Kurt Eklund, Soane Vikena, Ricky Riccitelli
Locks: James Tucker, Josh Goodhue, Sam Darry, Luke Romano
Back-row: Taine Plumtree, Tom Robinson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Anton Segner, Hoskins Sotutu, Cameron Suafoa, Adrian Choat
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie, Sam Nock, Taufa Funaki
Fly-halves: Beauden Barrett, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta
Centres: Taniela Tele’a, Rieko Ioane, Corey Evans, Tamati Tua, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Outside backs: Mark Telea, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkeens, Zarn Sullivan
Barrett’s return to the Blues following a stint with Suntory Sungoliath in the Top League is a major boon for the defending Super Rugby champions, having claimed the Trans-Tasman tournament in 2021. After switching from the Hurricanes for 2020, the All Blacks great played just seven games for the club before heading to Japan, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining him in blue is former NRL Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, the one-time New Zealand Warriors captain crossing codes to add even more class to the Blues’ choice of centres.
However, they’ve lost captain Patrick Tuipulotu to Japan, as well as Otere Black and TJ Faiane.
Props: Aidan Ross, Atunaisa Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Reuben O’Neill
Hookers: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Bradley Slater, Tyrone Thompson
Locks: Tupou Vaa’i, Brodie Retallick, Laghlan McWhannell, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Josh Lord
Back-row: Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Simon Parker, Pita Gus Sowakula, Kaylum Boshier, Samipeni Finau
Halfbacks: Brad Weber, Xavier Roe, Cortez Ratima
Fly-halves: Bryn Gatland, Kaleb Trask, Josh Ioane
Centres: Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Rameka Poihipi, Gideon Wrampling
Outside backs: Jonah Lowe, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Chase Tiatia, Shaun Stevenson, Rivez Reihana
Brodie Retallick joins Barrett in returning from a stint in Japan, the All Blacks veteran to add to his 107 games for the Chiefs.
However, star Damian McKenzie is headed the other way, having joined Suntory Sungoliath.
Props: Joe Moody, Oli Jager, Fletcher Newell, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Finlay Brewis
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Brodie McAlister, Shilo Klein
Locks: Scott Barrett, Quentin Strange, Mitchell Dunshea, Sam Whitelock, Zach Gallagher
Back-row: Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili Talitui, Cullen Grace, Pablo Matera, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow
Halfbacks: Mitch Drummond, Bryn Hall, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
Fly-halves: Richie Mo’unga, Simon Hickey, Fergus Burke
Centres: Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Isaiah Punivai, Dallas McLeod
Outside backs: Chay Fihaki, George Bridge, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Kini Naholo
Argentina flanker Pablo Matera is the highest-profile inclusion for Super Rugby’s most successful side, the former Pumas and Jaguares captain heading to Christchurch for the new season.
Among the losses are Tom Sanders, Whetukamokamo Douglas and Brett Cameron to Japan, and Josh McKay to Scotland.
Props: Ayden Johnstone, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan de Groot, Jermaine Ainsley, Josh Hohneck, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Rhys Marshall, Andrew Makalio
Locks: Maanaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Max Hicks, Sam Caird
Back-row: James Lentjes, Billy Harmon, Hugh Renton, Shannon Frizell, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Gareth Evans, Sean Withy
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, Folau Fakatava, Kayne Hammington
Fly-halves: Marty Banks, Mitchell Hunt
Centres: Fetuli Paea, Patelesio Tomkinson, Solomon Alaimalo, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Ngatungane Punivai, Scott Gregory
Outside backs: Connor Garden-Bachop, Mosese Dawai, Vilimoni Koroi, Sam Gilbert, Josh Timu
With Jona Nareki and Pari Pari unavailable through injury, the Highlanders’ roster is already stretched thin heading into 2022.
Losing Ash Dixon to Japan is a further blow, as is fullback Josh Ioane’s defection to the Chiefs, while veteran Gareth Evans returns to Otago after four years with the Hurricanes.
Props: Tevita Mafileo, Alex Fidow, Xavier Numia, Tyrel Lomax, Pasilio Tosi, Pouri Rakete-Stones
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, James O’Reilly
Locks: James Blackwell, Dom Bird, Scott Scrafton, Justin Sangster
Back-row: Brayden Iose, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Blake Gibson, Ardie Savea, Tyler Laubscher, Devan Flanders, Caleb Delany, TK Howden
Halfbacks: Jamie Booth, TJ Perenara, Cam Roigard
Fly-halves: Aidan Morgan, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ruben Love
Centres: Teihorangi Walden, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan
Outside backs: Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Pepesana Patafilo, Salesi Rayasi, Wes Goosen, Josh Moorby
Ngani Laumape is a huge loss for the Hurricanes, the All Black having headed to the Top 14 and Stade Francais.
Following him out the door are Ricky Riccitelli to the Blues and Gareth Evans to the Highlanders.
Props: Sekope Kepu, Isieli Tuungafasi, Joe Apikatoa, Tau Koloamatangi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris Apoua
Hookers: Ray Niuia, Sam Moli, Luteru Tolai
Locks: Don Lolo, Mike McKee, Veikoso Poliniati, Alex McRobbie
Back-row: Henry Stowers, Jack Lam, Sione Tuipulotu, Penitoa Finau, Lotu Inisi, Sam Slade, Alamanda Motuga
Halfbacks: Ere Enari, Jonathan Taumateine, Manu Paea
Fly-halves: Christian Lealiifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili
Centres: Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Henry Taefu, Fine Inisi
Outside backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Solomone Kata, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tima Fainga’anuku, Anzelo Tuituvuki
34-year old former Wallaby Christian Lealiifano headlines the signings for the new Super Rugby side. Alongside his 26 Australian caps, he played 150 games for the Brumbies, the second-most at that club.
Joining him at Pasifika is another former Wallabies rep in Sekope Kepu, who played 110 Tests, including the 2015 World Cup final. The 35-year old’s experience will be crucial in helping develop a side coming to terms with life in Super Rugby.