Turbos squad confirmed for 2018
The Manawatu Turbos have named an experienced squad for the 2018 season including 15 players with Super Rugby caps.
Coaches Jeremy Cotter and Aaron Good have named their 30-man squad as they chase a repeat of the Turbos’ 2014 Championship division title in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Along with the squad, Kia Toa outside back Jono Ihaka and Feilding Yellows No 8 Sam Wasley have been called in on short-term deals.
First five-eighth Sam Malcolm is the latest addition to the team.
He returns to New Zealand after spending the season playing for West Harbour in Australia’s Shute Shield.
Malcolm is a replacement to Ben Wyness, who broke and dislocated his ankle in the semi-finals of the club season with Feilding Yellows.
It will be Malcolm’s fourth season with the Turbos.
He played nine games over his first three years.
Malcolm will battle Jade Te Rure for the starting No 10 jersey until Otere Black returns to the fray in week three.
While there is a host of new players, there is no lack of experience with Lifeimi Mafi, Michael Tagicakibau and Nick Crosswell boasting extensive experience across the world.
Mafi has 18 games for Manawatu, but last donned the green and white in 2003.
Since then he has played for Taranaki, New Zealand Sevens, racked up more than 100 games for Irish giants Munster and captained French side Perpignan.
Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa and Hurricanes prop Fraser Armstrong will have the inside running for a starting prop berth, but they will have strong competition from Brumbies prop Faalelei Sione, former New Zealand Under 20s prop Sean Paranihi and 2018 New Zealand Under 20s prop Sione Asi.
Tim Cadwallader and former Southland hooker Sam Stewart will share duties in the No 2 jersey.
Former Waikato and Taranaki lock Brad Tucker will join Liam Hallam-Eames and Crosswell in the second row while Jackson Hemopo is away on All Blacks camp.
Liam Mitchell, who has signed with the Hurricanes for 2019, will spend much of his time on the side of the scrum, but can also cover lock.
New captain Antonio Kiri has locked up the No 7 jersey, while Brice Henderson and Wasley will share responsibilities at the back of the scrum.
The Turbos are well stocked at halfback, despite being unlikely to see All Black Aaron Smith. Highlander Kayne Hammington and Hurricane Jamie Booth will continue their battle for the starting role.
The Turbos should have a deadly backline in 2018.
Ngani Laumape will miss part of the season after being called into the All Blacks as injury cover for Sonny Bill Williams.
But they still have the hard-hitting Mafi, along with Highlanders standout Rob Thompson and former Blues second five-eighth Hamish Northcott.
There is plenty of depth in the outside backs.
Former Reds outside back Junior Laloifi was a preseason standout and he is joined by last year’s Turbos rookie of the year Te Rangatira Waitokia, former Fijian international Michael Tagicakibau, Manawatu club rugby’s 2018 best and fairest winner James Tofa, who is also a handy goalkicking option, and Ihaka.
The team will also remain optimistic that they will see Nehe Milner-Skudder released from the All Blacks for a couple of games throughout the season.
The Turbos kick off their campaign against Waikato on August 18 in Palmerston North against Waikato.
Full squad listing
Michael Alaalatoa, Fraser Armstrong, Sione Asi, Otere Black, Jamie Booth, Tim Cadwallader, Nick Crosswell, Liam Hallam-Eames, Kayne Hammington, Jackson Hemopo, Brice Henderson, Brayden Iose, Antonio Kiri (captain), Ngani Laumape, Junior Laloifi, Lifeimi Mafi, Sam Malcolm, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Liam Mitchell, Hamish Northcott, Sean Paranihi, Faalelei Sione, Aaron Smith, Sam Stewart, Michael Tagicakibau, Jade Te Rure, Rob Thompson, James Tofa, Brad Tucker, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Sam Wasley, Jono Ihaka.
TURBOS MITRE 10 CUP: