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Stefan Destounis selected for NZ Heartland XV

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Civil Project Solutions Poverty Bay’s Stefan Destounis has been selected for this year’s NZ Heartland XV, which will play NZ Barbarians 5th December in Taupo.

New Zealand Heartland XV Head Coach Nigel Walsh has named 23 players and seven non-travelling reserves for the upcoming match against the New Zealand Barbarians next month.

The team features 19 players who will be taking the field in the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship Finals this weekend.

The New Zealand Heartland XV is:

*Denotes non-travelling reserve player


Callum Burrell* Mid Canterbury
Stefan Destounis Poverty Bay
Tokomaata Fakatava South Canterbury
Hone Haerewa East Coast
Campbell Hart Whanganui
Hadlee Hay-Horton Whanganui
Seta Koroitamana Mid Canterbury
Te Huia Kutia* Thames Valley
Josh Lane* Whanganui
Connor McVerry Thames Valley
Manasa Bari Samo Mid Canterbury
Nick Strachan South Canterbury
Sam Sturgess North Otago
Vaka Taelega South Canterbury
Loni Toumohuni* South Canterbury
Sam Van Der Valk Thames Valley
Adam Williamson Mid Canterbury


Sireli Buliruarua South Canterbury
Craig Clare Whanganui
Paula Fifita South Canterbury
Te Rangi Fraser East Coast
Lindsay Horrocks Whanganui
Sam Parkes* East Coast
Zac Saunders* South Canterbury
Timoci Seruwalu Whanganui
Hayden Todd North Otago
Lennix Tovo Horowhenua Kapiti
Raitube Vasurakuta Mid Canterbury
William Wright South Canterbury
Dane Whale* Whanganui


Nigel Walsh Head Coach South Canterbury
Jason Hamlin Assistant Coach Whanganui
Tony Harrison Manager Mid Canterbury
Slade King Trainer King Country
Geoff Thompson Physio South Canterbury
Coll Campbell Doctor Poverty Bay


Walsh said the number of players involved in finals matches highlighted the strength of the side.

“There are 19 players in the finals this weekend which just shows the calibre of players in this squad. It’s been an eight-week selection process watching games all over the country and we’re happy that this team is well-balanced, exciting and has really strong skill sets. They’re all deserving of wearing the silver fern.”

This will be Walsh’s first campaign as Head Coach and, alongside Assistant Coach Jason Hamlin, said the management team were looking forward to the upcoming game against the New Zealand Barbarians.

“It’s a special moment and an honour and privilege to be involved in the team and represent that silver fern. The Heartland team means a lot to the Heartland unions and for many players this is their aim and the pinnacle of their rugby careers.”

“We’re expecting a tough, close competition from the Barbarians and I’m looking forward to seeing players standing up, proving a point and taking that next step.”

Pending COVID-19 Alert Levels, the 2021 side will assemble in Taupō on 2 December to take part in a five-day camp.

Walsh said the camp will have an off field focus to allow the players to come together.

“We obviously don’t have a lot of time to prepare so it’ll be about building culture, morale and team atmosphere. Apart from that we’ll focus on our connection work and getting our phase plays and structures right.”

The New Zealand Heartland XV will play the New Zealand Barbarians at Owen Delany Park, Taupō on Sunday 5 December at 2pm live on Sky Sport.

Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship Finals:

Meads Cup

Sunday 14 November, 3.35pm

South Canterbury v Thames Valley

Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru

Lochore Cup

Sunday 14 November, 1.05pm

Whanganui v North Otago

Cooks Gardens, Whanganui

Fifth v Sixth Playoff

Sunday 14 November, 2.05pm

Poverty Bay v Mid Canterbury

Rugby Park, Gisborne

New Zealand Heartland XV match schedule:

Sunday 5 December, 2pm

Heartland XV v New Zealand Barbarians

Owen Delany Park, Taupō