Test men target Taranaki

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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New Plymouth Old Boys' front-row stocks will be bolstered by two Canadian test players who harbour an ambition of playing for Taranaki.

Prop Hubert Buydens and hooker Ryan Hamilton will arrive in the province late next month and will be available for Old Boys' first competition match against Coastal on March 16.

Assistant coach Neil Barnes, who is also Canada's forwards coach, was instrumental in bringing the pair to Taranaki. Former Taranaki coach Kieran Crowley is also in charge of Canada.

"They are reasonable players and it's something Kieran has been trying to do, to get the players a better level of rugby," Barnes said. "It's not that easy, we've only got club rugby, no provincial or Super Rugby to play in between internationals. The more players we can get to play internationally is obviously going to benefit us."

Buydens started every one of Canada's four pool matches during the Rugby World Cup while Hamilton came off the bench and also made four appearances.

Canada Rugby has paid for the pair's travel to NZ, while they will also have to return home in late May for test matches. They will also be required for World Cup qualifying games in July.

"It's probably the worst year to bring them out because they will only play half a year of club rugby," Barnes said. "But I've spoken to Coops [Taranaki coach Colin Cooper] and he's got two positions - hooker and tighthead prop - where he wants more depth and I've got two players, so it could be a win-win for us if they are up to the standard."

Cooper was anxious to see them play club rugby.

Buydens had a late introduction to rugby, only picking up the sport four years ago after a background in American football.

"He's a quick learner, very much in the Gordon Slater mode - doesn't say much and just gets on with it," Barnes said. "Ryan is a very good player. He's a converted loose forward and it was just unlucky he was sitting behind the captain because he was as good a player. "

Barnes stressed Old Boys were not putting in a "roadblock" for any local players with the club desperately short of front row depth.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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