Above: Tolu Fahamokioa playing for his Tawa club side last weekend. Photo: Jun Tanlayco
All corners of New Zealand are set to be represented when the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians open the British & Irish Lions Series 2017 on 3 June in Whangarei.
Provincial Barbarians Coach Clayton McMillan has today named the core of the squad for the series opener, which features an exciting mix of players from 15 different provinces.
All Men's NPC Unions and Heartland Championship and Meads Cup Champions Wanganui are represented with veteran skipper and Barbarians Club member Peter Rowe, set to add to his already impressive rugby CV.
"It was important to us in selecting this team that it was truly representative of New Zealand," said McMillan.
"It wasn't an easy task, the amount of talent considered is testament to how strong New Zealand rugby is now. We believe we have found a mix of upcoming players and hardened provincial stalwarts to make an exciting team.
"We have picked the base of a team that is capable of playing an entertaining brand of rugby which fits with the BaaBaas tradition of innovation and flair and playing with pure guts and heart."
Of the 19 players named today, 13 have previously donned the black jersey for either New Zealand Schools, New Zealand Under 20s or Maori All Blacks.
The remainder of the squad will be confirmed closer to the team's assembly in Whangarei on May 28, as coaches monitor player progress across the country.
Four of the forwards boast Super Rugby experience, as well as exciting Taranaki midfielder Johnny Fa'auli who has made several appearances for the Chiefs in 2017.
It will be a family affair for North Harbour first-five-eighth Bryn Gatland who comes up against a British & Irish Lions side coached by his father Warren Gatland.
Local fans in Whangarei will be able to celebrate Northland players Josh Goodhue and Matt Matich playing at home at Toll Stadium.
New Zealand Rugby GM for the Lions Series, Nigel Cass congratulated the players selected for the eagerly anticipated clash.
"The players will not only go into the match against the Lions representing their home regions, they will have the whole country behind them. For many, this match will be a career highlight and every player will be doing their very best to cause an upset in the opening match of what is going to be an exceptional Series."
Whangarei Deputy Mayor, Sharon Morgan said the city was looking forward to adopting the Barbarians as a local team for the week leading into the match.
"Whangarei is excited to host the opening match of the Lions Series and looking forward to supporting the Barbarians in the week leading up to this massive match.
"The atmosphere in the city will be incredible going into the game and even more so on the match day."
Tickets are currently available from $39 for an adult and $10 for a child from www.nzlionsseries17.com
Aiden Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington)
Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago)
Epalahame Faiva (Waikato)
Marcel Renata (Auckland)
Quinten Strange (Tasman)
Joshua Goodhue (Northland)
Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu)
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
Matthew Matich (Northland)
Peter Rowe (Wanganui)
Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)
Jack Stratton (Canterbury)
Bryn Gatland (North Harbour)
Jonathan Fa'auli (Taranaki)
Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay)
Sevuloni Reece (Waikato)
Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)