Mooloo add recruits to roster

Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014

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Waikato's NPC squad is starting to take shape, with Chiefs prop Josh Hohneck and Blues fullback Albert Nikoro signed for this season.

Hohneck, 28, played 11 games for the Mooloos in 2007-08 and has spent the past three years in the Chiefs squad while representing Bay of Plenty.

Twenty-one-year-old Nikoro made his Blues debut in 2012, and was loaned from Auckland to Tasman in 2012, before an ACL injury ruled him out of action for much of last year.

The duo will be joined at the Mooloos by locks Luke Katene and David Morgan, and centre Jordan Payne.

Katene, 27, a 2013 Maori All Black, represented Waikato at development level before a season with Bay of Plenty and three years with Canterbury, while Morgan, 21, spent the past two seasons in the Northland squad.

Waikato coach Johnny Walters is happy to be welcoming them and Hohneck back to the pack.

''Josh and Luke have established themselves as high quality first-class players in the past couple of years and will add a lot of experience to our young forward pack, while David is a big, uncompromising young lock with plenty of potential,'' Walters said.

''It's also great they have chosen to return to their home province which is very important to us and something we are actively trying to achieve - building a group of men passionate about the Waikato jersey.''

Walters is also pleased to have secured the signatures of Nikoro and Payne - a former Auckland age-group representative.

''Albert is an exciting footballer, a very good defender with good pace and a strong kicking game and Jordan is a very hard worker who knows the game well. They will be quality additions to our squad.''

The 2014 NPC draw has also been released, with Waikato to open their season away to Wellington on Saturday August 16. Their first home fixture is against Canterbury on Friday August 22.

The season will begin with Taranaki hosting Ranfurly Shield holders Counties Manukau in New Plymouth on Thursday August 14.

Otago will get the first scheduled Shield challenge, facing Counties in week two.

The Championship final is on Friday, October 24, and the Premiership final on Saturday, October 25.

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- Waikato Times

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