Soldiers bolster Turbos' stocks
The Manawatu Turbos squad is all but complete.
Linton Army centre Jaxon Tagavaitau put pen to paper yesterday to finalise the Turbos' back division and will probably be the final player contracted.
The army club have three men in the squad for only the second time in the Turbos' history. The others are halfback Papa Wharewera and wing-fullback Hamiora Thomas.
Three soldiers were in the squad in 2007-08 - locks Hayden Triggs and Adaam Ross and threequarter Aaron James.
Both Tagavaitau and Thomas had previously played for the Linton Cobras rugby league team and caught the eye of Jason O'Halloran while playing in a pre-season tournament at the army camp this year.
"He [Tagavaitau] has good physical attributes and is a very good ball player," O'Halloran said. "He takes on information very well."
Tagavaitau weighs 107kg and just needs work on his defence, which is different in rugby.
The Turbos had been looking at procuring a centre from outside the union, but then decided he wasn't better than what there was in Manawatu and shelved that one.
Kia Toa midfield back Nathan Tudreu has passed his fitness test and has been signed, with only a minor immigration formality to be finalised. Tudreu arrived in Palmerston North from Fiji this year to join his brother, and now fellow Turbo, Newton, studying at the International Pacific College.
Nathan tore a posterior cruciate knee ligament playing against Old Boys-Marist on June 21 and hasn't played since. He would have played in the club final last Saturday, but wrenched an ankle in a Manawatu wider training group session two weeks ago after colliding with No 8 James Oliver.
Team doctor Ra Durie put Tudreu through a rigorous medical test and passed him fit.
Oliver played 40 minutes for Massey Rams last Saturday on his return from his shoulder operation.
The Turbos are still awaiting final information about Highlanders prop Ma'afu Fia following his collapse at training on June 21. That is likely to come next week from his neurologist in Dunedin. All of the tests so far have been clear.
Most of the players are expected back next week, new lock Keepa Mewett on Sunday, except lock Michael FitzGerald who is to have a finger operation. The Super Rugby players are allowed two weeks off, but Jason Emery comes north on Monday and Chris Eves and Nick Crosswell probably won't be far behind.
Manawatu play Wellington in a pre-season match at the Hutt Recreation Ground at 3pm next Friday.
More prominent rugby people have been confirmed for the fund-raising dinner for injured Awatapu College schoolboy player Nat Manville at the Convention Centre next Wednesday.
They include coaches Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith, former All Blacks Andy Leslie and Colin Meads and TV commentator Keith Quinn. The All Blacks are now having a training camp at that time which will put the attendance of Aaron Cruden and Aaron Smith in doubt.