Power player in Manawatu orbit

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 13:41 04/04/2014

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Timoci Seruwalu's name sticks out in more ways than one in the wider Manawatu training group.

The big 22-year-old from Suva, already nicknamed Big Jim, is weighing in at 112kg and club defences are already finding him a rugged critter to haul down.

Seruwalu is being spoken of as a Manawatu Turbos prospect, perhaps sharing the centre load with the under-utilised Highlander, Jason Emery.

It is early days though, with the 1.85m tall Seruwalu having to trim down and get things settled on the residency front.

He came to the fore for the Manawatu sevens team after coming from Wellington, where he played for Norths, and from where he played for the Hurricanes Development XV last year.

In 2012 he played for the Fijian under-20 team at the IRB junior world championships in South Africa, when he weighed 107kg.

The Turbos and academy coaches run a squad of about 40 players each week to train for the their top teams between 6pm and 7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.

They work on skills and conditioning and on trouble-shooting identified in club rugby.

Named in the squad are injured contracted halfbacks Jamie Booth and Papa Wharewera, as well as injured loose forward James Oliver.

Wharewera ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee in the NZ Army 10s tournament at Linton Camp in February, but Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran expects him to recover to play this season.

Former Super halfback Toby Morland is being left to play for Te Kawau so he can concentrate on establishing his new business.

A player of such calibre is bound to be a valuable asset later in the season.

The contracted players who are in Manawatu are in the squad. But there has been no point in naming the Super Rugby players at the Highlanders and Chiefs, nor those in the Hurricanes wider training squad, Callum Gibbins, Chris Eves and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Canadian prop Hubert Buydens returned to New Zealand last Friday and is in the training squad.

Last year he only arrived in July. He will be in Manawatu for the next two months until returning home for more international matches and then coming back before the Turbos' season starts.

Tim Cadwallader, the versatile 112kg College Old Boys tighthead prop-hooker is a prospect to play for the New Zealand under-20 side. With his credentials, he is already playing for the Hurricanes development XV, he could be a handy spare tighthead prop to partner Ma'afu Fia in the Turbos' front row if anything happened to Eves.

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- Manawatu Standard

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