It is the highest turnover in four years with 14 new faces, but the Chiefs will once again field a championship-capable side in 2016 that includes the notable return of one RWC hero.
Stephen Donald returns after four years away to provide the Chiefs with another goal kicking option. Famous for his World Cup winning kick in 2011 for the All Blacks, Donald provides a large amount of experience that will tutor the younger players in the backline well.
After suffering a season-ending injury, Aaron Cruden will be match fit by February, giving the Chiefs the option to field two first fives with proven match winning experience at the highest level of rugby.
Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam will not be a part of Super Rugby in 2016 due to their international sevens commitments.
Big scalps from other sides in the competition include the Crusaders due of lock Dominic Bird and prop Nepo Laulala, plus the injection of former Warriors NRL star Glen Fisiiahi in the backs will keep a lot of media and fans alike interested.
The Chiefs will spend more time away from home in 2016 and will be the first side to travel to Beunos Aires where they will tackle the new Argentine Super Rugby side that includes the exciting Nicolas Sanchez.
Coach Dave Rennie is currently offshore but says the Chiefs squad for 2016 is high on character with a competitive edge.
The full Chiefs squad for 2016:
Michael Allardice – Lock (Hawke’s Bay)
Johan Bardoul – Loose forward (Bay of Plenty)
Dominic Bird – Lock (Canterbury)**
Sam Cane – Loose forward (Bay of Plenty)
Stephen Donald – First five-eighth (Waikato)
Aaron Cruden – First five-eighth (Manawatu)
Hika Elliot – Hooker (Taranaki)
Glen Fisiiahi – Utility Back (Counties Manukau)*
Siegfried Fisiihoi – Prop (Bay of Plenty)*
Mitchell Graham – Prop (Taranaki)
Nathan Harris – Hooker (Bay of Plenty)
Andrew Horrell – Midfield back (Hawke’s Bay)
Mitchell Karpik – Loose forward (Auckland-Bay of Plenty)*
Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Halfback (Waikato)
Tevita Koloamatangi – Loose forward (Tasman)
Nepo Laulala – Prop (Canterbury)**
Michael Leitch – Loose forward (Japan)
Anton Lienert-Brown – Midfield back (Waikato)
James Lowe – Winger (Tasman)
Pauliasi Manu – Prop (Counties Manukau)
Rhys Marshall – Hooker (Taranaki)
Damian McKenzie – First five-eighth/Fullback (Waikato)
Sam McNicol – Outside back (Wellington)**
Atu Moli – Prop (Waikato)*
Charlie Ngatai – Midfield back (Taranaki)
Augustine Pulu – Halfback (Counties Manukau)
Toni Pulu – Winger (Counties Manukau)
Brodie Retallick – Lock (Bay of Plenty-Hawke’s Bay)
Tom Sanders – Loose forward (Canterbury) *
Teleni Seu – Loose forward (Auckland)*
Shaun Stevenson – Outside back (Waikato)*
Seta Tamanivalu – Midfield back (Taranaki)
Chase Tiatia – Outside back (Bay of Plenty)*
Siate Tokolahi – Prop (Canterbury)
James Tucker – Lock (Waikato)*
Maama Vaipulu – Loose forward (Counties Manukau)
Latu Vaeno – Winger (Taranaki)*
Sam Vaka – Midfield back (Counties Manukau)*
Brad Weber – Halfback (Waikato-Hawke’s Bay)
Sonny Bill Williams – Midfield (Counties Manukau)
Austin Manning – Supersub (Bay of Plenty) ***
*Super Rugby debut
** Gallagher Chiefs debut
***Special team member