The DHL NZ Lions Series 2017 kick offs when the British & Irish Lions take on the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on 3 June – but who will take the field for the Barbarians?
Made up of players from outside the frontline Investec Super Rugby squads, the NZ Provincial Barbarians will offer an opportunity to players who have excelled at Mitre 10 Cup, Heartland Championship and age-grade level to test themselves against the best from Britain and Ireland.
Let’s take a look at five players who could feature when the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians squad is named on Wednesday 12 April.
Kalolo Tuiloma (Counties-Manukau) – prop
At 6’5 and 140kg, Tuiloma is an imposing physical specimen and will ask plenty of questions of the Lions front row at scrum time. But it is not just in the tight exchanges where Tuiloma is impressive. The Counties Manukau powerhouse is an explosive ball runner with a nose for the try-line. In a clash against Waikato during the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup season, Tuiloma crossed for a remarkable hat-trick after just 20 minutes to show that he is a star on the rise.
Peter Rowe (Wanganui) – Loose Forward
If there is one player in the country who deserves a chance to take on the Lions it is Wanganui stalwart Peter Rowe. Since debuting for Wanganui in 2003, the hard-working loose forward has played more than 100 games, won a third division title, five Meads Cup championships and one Lochore Cup title. As a leader, Rowe has been pivotal in Wanganui’s success and captained the New Zealand Heartland XV from 2012-2015. Rowe is the epitome of hard work and determination and will not take a backward step against the Lions.
Sevu Reece (Waikato) – Wing
Given the festival nature of the Barbarians team, they will be looking to spread the ball wide and Reece is a man who could pose plenty of problems for the Lions defence. The 20-year-old Fijian-born speedster had a breakout season for Waikato during the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup with his searing pace and dazzling feet. Reece has committed himself to playing in New Zealand and will be keen to impress in any opportunity he gets.
Quentin Strange (Tasman) – Lock
Although the New Zealand Under 20s struggled at the 2016 World Championships, lock Quentin Strange was one of the standout performers during the tournament. The towering second rower is a proficient lineout exponent, busy around the park and strong with ball in hand. He made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Tasman as a 19-year-old in 2016 and quickly established himself in the starting line up with 11 appearances across the season. Strange also has a knack of scoring tries, notching up two for the NZ Under 20s during the 2016 World Championships and two for Tasman during the Mitre 10 Cup.
Josh Goodhue (Northland) – Lock
Standing at 2 metres tall, Northland lock Josh Goodhue is naturally strong at lineout time, but it is perhaps his athleticism and running game that gives him the edge. Goodhue was a standout for the New Zealand Under 20s in 2015 and was one of Northland’s best performers during the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed with Blues coach Tana Umaga selecting him for the Blues 2017 squad: “He is big and athletic with a considerable future in the game. I’m sure he will develop well inside the Blues environment and be able to soak up so much from the likes of Paddy Tuipulotu, Steven Luatua and Jerome Kaino,” Umaga said.