Taranaki hold on to key players for 2013 NPC
Two men integral to Taranaki's 2013 NPC campaign have signed new contracts.
New Blues halfback Jamison Gibson-Park has pledged his immediate future to the union, signing a three-year deal that will take him through until at least the end of 2015.
Former All Blacks lock Jarrad Hoeata will extend his stay in the province until the end of 2014.
Gibson-Park's stocks rose rapidly last season to the point where Taranaki Rugby was desperate to sign him to a long-term deal.
Relatively unknown outside Taranaki before the start of the 2012 season, the 20-year-old burst on to the national scene through the NPC, his efforts catching the eye of new Blues coach John Kirwan, who pulled him north along with provincial team-mates Waisake Naholo and Kane Barrett.
With Chris Smylie already on Taranaki's books, coach Colin Cooper has two halfbacks playing Super Rugby to choose from when the NPC kicks off in August.
"Jamison is the future, so to have him re-sign with us on a three-year term is excellent," Cooper said yesterday.
"He proved in 2012 that he is an exciting prospect and, in the right environment, with support from senior players, Jamison will continue to thrive."
Hoeata's commitment could prove to be more significant as speculation mounts that senior lock Jason Eaton will head overseas after the Hurricanes' season, while there are still doubts over captain Craig Clarke's future after the 2013 Chiefs season.
While both men have been contracted to Taranaki, it is believed they have "out clauses" in their contracts, although Taranaki Rugby will not speculate on their future at this stage.
Although Hoeata, 29, has been used almost extensively at blindside or No 8 for Taranaki during his 61 appearances, he could easily partner Hurricanes second-rower James Broadhurst, who is a definite starter for the amber and blacks.
"He [Hoeata] brings a lot of experience and he continues to grow as a leader on and off the field," Cooper said.
"Jarrad has a lot of knowledge and a hunger to continue improving his game, which sets a great example to the younger players coming through."
Taranaki Daily News