Andre Taylor returns to Turbos
The Manawatu Turbos have locked in five more players for the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup season including a return home for outside back Andre Taylor.
Sunwolves halfback Jamie Booth, promising outside back Te Rangatira Waitokia, young gun centre Josiah Maraku and hooker Sam Stewart have also signed with Manawatu.
Taylor, 31, last played for the Turbos in 2009.
The former Hurricanes and New Zealand Maori goalkicking fullback played in Japan between 2014 and 2018 but returned to Palmerston North this year.
Taylor has been in impressive form for College Old Boys in the club competition.
His Turbos career started in 2006 when he debuted on the right wing against Taranaki while still a student at Palmerston North Boys’ Hight School.
In four seasons with Manawatu, Taylor played 33 games for the province.
Booth, the reigning Manawatu Supporters’ Club Player of the Season, will look forward to locking down the No 9 jersey having shared the duties with Kayne Hammington since his debut in 2014.
The 24-year-old livewire attacking threat is one of the Turbos’ most experienced players and will have a shot at bringing up 50 career matches this year with 42 games under his belt to date.
While remaining loyal to Manawatu, Booth has been well-travelled in his young career.
In 2015 he was called into the Blues squad; he made his Super Rugby debut with the Highlanders in 2016 after spending part of the off-season with the Newcastle Falcons and he spent the 2018 season with the Hurricanes before his shift to Japan in 2019.
Waitokia, 22, will play his third season with the Turbos having debuted in 2017 when he picked up the side’s rookie of the year gong.
A constant try-scoring threat, Waitokia has 10 games for the Turbos to his name.
He spent the early part of this season with the New Zealand Sevens Development squad.
Maraku will become the youngest member of the squad so far at 18-years-old.
The centre, who played for the New Zealand Secondary Schools XV last year, has handled the step up to senior rugby with ease this season.
Maraku’s passing game has seen him impress for Feilding Yellows and is expected to have a big playing future.
He has signed a three-year deal with Manawatu.
Hooker Stewart will head into the 2019 season with a top opportunity to take control of the starting role.
The 23-year-old featured in all 10 of Manawatu’s matches in 2018, including starting the final five.
He spent most of the first round of club rugby as a loose forward but has returned to his natural No 2 jersey for the second half of the season and once again impressed by nailing his core roles accurately.
Stewart won the Turbos’ rookie of the year title in 2018.