Four more ink on with Turbos in 2019
The Manawatu Turbos have signed prop Samu Tawake from Canterbury for the 2019 and 2020 Mitre 10 Cup seasons.
The 22-year-old Fijian prop is one of four players included in the latest group to lock up deals including experienced midfielder Hamish Northcott, rising star outside back Ben Werthmuller and policeman Johnny Galloway.
Turbos coach Peter Russell said he was excited to bring a player of Tawake’s calibre to the region.
“He has been studying down in Canterbury for five years. He has been playing for Sumner and the Crusaders Knights,” he said.
Tawake has been involved in Canterbury’s wider squad since 2016 and made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Canterbury against Otago last season.
A powerful ball carrier and strong scrummager, Tawake gives the Turbos some much-needed depth at tighthead prop.
Galloway, 24, returned home to Manawatu this year after three years outside the region.
This year he has been the competition’s form openside flanker for College Old Boys.
“The guys who have been performing at club rugby are being rewarded,” Russell said.
“We always said that we would look local first and Johnny has put his hand up. He came back from Auckland and told his bosses he was coming back here for an opportunity and here he is, and he has got it. This is just the beginning for him.”
Werthmuller continues his rise up the rugby ranks with his first Mitre 10 Cup contract.
The 21-year-old Old Boys-Marist outside back made his debut for the Turbos off the bench against Wellington last season and impressed in limited minutes.
He has been the star performer at OBM, locking down the fullback jersey and continued to show his talent in the Evergreens’ win over Wellington in June when he had a hand in the side’s first two tries before turning on a solo effort to bag one himself.
Werthmuller has made massive strides since finishing at Palmerston North Boys’ High School in 2015, forcing his way into the Manawatu Rugby Academy programme in 2017 leading to his provincial debut the year later.
“[Ben’s path] says it all about staying local and not looking elsewhere – just working hard. He is a classic example of that and he has been rewarded,” Russell said of the fullback who has spent time training with the Hurricanes earlier this year.
Russell said Northcott would play a key role in the backline in his eighth season with the Turbos.
He believed Northcott willingness to embrace the analysis of opposition teams showed his desire to recapture the form that saw him signed with the Blues in 2015.
“I think this year you will see a different Hamish Northcott.I think that he has the bit between his teeth and he wants to prove to people that he is still capable of playing Super Rugby.”
Northcott is away captaining the New Zealand Ambassadors team in Europe for the next couple of weeks.
He debuted for the Turbos in 2012, but it was in 2014 that he transitioned from promising youngster to genuine star.
His performances on the run to the Turbos 2014 Championship title helped earn him a contract with the Blues in 2015.
With 53 games for the Turbos under his belt, Northcott looks set to be the Turbos’ most experienced back in 2019.