Turbos clinch deal to keep George
Waikato first five-eighth Nathan George has signed on for the Manawatu Turbos for next season.
The 21-year-old played in six of the Turbos' 10 games this season after arriving on loan from Waikato.
He was taken on in June after Isaac Thompson injured his shoulder and with Aaron Cruden in the All Blacks.
George had a tough initiation in the opening match against Wellington but played with more confidence in the final three games of the season when he took over from Junior Tomasi Cama who was on international sevens duty.
George will play club rugby in Manawatu next year for Feilding.
Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran said the combination between George and halfback Papa Wharewera started to gel towards the end of the season.
"He [George] has the skills to run the game, his goalkicking is good and he's a courageous defender," O'Halloran said.
"He just needs to learn the systems better and he will get better with combinations."
George was stoked yesterday when the deal was sealed. Bay of Plenty showed interest but then decided he was too similar to their first-five Chris Noakes.
"It was a better option for me coming to Manawatu," George said.
"Here's hoping we get a [Ranfurly] Shield challenge up at Waikato Stadium next year."
Since he has been back home he has not heard a peep from Waikato, so he assumed it was a closed shop.
George admitted he found it tough after he was stood down following the Wellington game this year.
"I got told my work-ons but with the short turnarounds I didn't feel I had enough time to impress the coaches at trainings.
"At this level you stand out a bit more."
He said he learnt a lot from the older players.
O'Halloran is leaving the second first five-eighth spot open for now.
Thompson will be appraised after his shoulder operation, Jade Te Rure excelled at the Central Region sevens on Saturday and NZ Barbarians Schools first-five Otere Black will be a year away from being eligible.
The Turbos are looking to boost their propping stocks so they have signed Highlanders tighthead Ma'afu Fia for three years.
United States Eagles prop Eric Fry is keen to come back and the Turbos would like him playing club rugby, as a tighthead prop.
He has signed with London Scottish whose season in the RFU Championship runs until May. He played in all three of the US' internationals in Europe, at tighthead.
Loosehead prop Jared Brock will be back after only one appearance this year.
Wharewera will train with the Hurricanes until they start their first Super Rugby match in February. He is with the squad in Wellington but not on one of the official rosters.
He will be signed on by Manawatu later this week meaning the Turbos will have two halfbacks contracted - the other is Jamie Booth.
Another former New Zealand Schools halfback, Ben Edwards, played well in a recent match against an Iranz side at Massey University.