Seven Blues players, with 218 Super caps between them, will extend their stay at the Auckland Blues.
The ‘Super Seven’ comprise James Parsons, TJ Faiane, Sione Mafileo, Otere Black, Tom Robinson and Stephen
“This is a core group of key players who are an important cog to the Blues wheel both on and off the field,” said Tony Hanks, Blues General Manager High Performance.
“Five of them are players that are born and bred in our region and have come through our system at the Blues. They have been committed to our Blues family since they were age group players and aspired to be part of a successful Blues club. “
“With the retention of top players always challenging in New Zealand, the commitment of this core group, along with the recent extensions of Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii, is a significant statement to the commitment, motivation and ambition of our current group, both this year and in the seasons to come,” said Hanks.
Parsons, who has played 98 games for the Blues, was keen to continue his long and storied career with the club.
“He is getter better with experience and his form and leadership make him an important player to re-sign when players of his age are departing New Zealand. Retaining experience is critical to our development and James is a thorough professional who is a real role model for our game,” said forwards coach Tom Coventry.
His fellow Harbour front rower, Mafileo has played 40 times for the Blues and started five times this year.
“After a strong apprenticeship, Sione is now delivering at a high standard game-in game-out and has become a regular starter amongst an excellent group of props. The best is still ahead of him,” said Coventry.
Faiane, who was sidelined for the first two years of his professional carer with injury, captained Auckland to its Mitre-10 Cup success and has carried on that outstanding form to date this season.
“TJ has taken his game to a new level in Investec Super Rugby, and is working well alongside Ma’a and Sonny in the midfield. His work ethic in training is excellent and he is a key leader in our club,” said coach Leon MacDonald.
Robinson has been one of the new starts this season, who like Faiane has had two seasons thwarted by injury before producing standout form for Northland to earn his Super opportunity.
“Tom has been part of the Blues development and has taken his chances a non-stop aggressive approach whether it be at training or in games. His attitude is outstanding and we are thrilled he will be staying with us,” said Coventry.
Black and Perofeta, talented young first-fives, have both signed to stay at the club and both have had to overcome long term injuries. Black, who missed last Super season, has been an influential guiding light in the team this year, while Perofeta, who impressed last year, will miss much of this season with a pec muscle injury.
“Otere is a calm and decisive head on young shoulders who is steering us around the park with maturity beyond his years while Stephen remains an important part of our squad and we look forward to having him back on the playing roster. It is really encouraging with two players of real talent who play in the same position deciding to continue on with our club,” said MacDonald.
Clarke, who has just turned 20, has already shown he has a massive future in Super Rugby. After a transition year with the All Black Sevens, New Zealand U20s and Mitre-10 Cup, Clarke starred in pre-season before a serious knee injury. He returned with an impressive performance and try against the Waratahs.
“Caleb is a product of our development pathway and while he is still just 20, he has immense talent and is a tremendous and humble young man who is a real contributor to our club,” said MacDonald.
“Overall while our focus is firmly fixed on the second half of the season, it is great to know we have a significant core group of players staying with us for the next two years at least.”
Press Release from Auckland Blues
All Blacks Ace Signs New Contract
The All Blacks have secured the services of one of their top stars for the foreseeable future after he agreed a new deal
The 22-year-old has agreed a contract extension until 2022 after he had a breakthrough last season, after being initially brought in by the Crusaders as a back-up before becoming a key member of the squad and being handed a full-time contract.
He went on to finish as the top try-scorer in last year’s Super Rugby campaign as he notched up 15 tries and he said that the decision to extend was a no brainer.
“2019 was a surreal season for me with the Crusaders and All Blacks, so it was an easy decision to extend my time with the Crusaders club and continue to push for higher honours. I’m loving my rugby at the moment and have had the opportunity to work with some amazing players and coaches, who have inspired me on and off the field. I’m really looking forward to what the 2020 season has in store,” he said.
With the help of Reece the Crusaders managed to secure a third successive Super Rugby title and head coach Scott Robertson is looking forward to having him on board for a bit longer.
“Sevu is a special player, and we’re excited that he’s extended his time with the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby. He was our 2019 Rookie of the Year, who slotted into our environment seamlessly and took Super Rugby by storm with an outstanding debut season. I’m excited to work with him again this season and watch him go from strength to strength,” he said.
Reece’s form for the franchise led to a call-up to the All Blacks and he has gone on to win a total of seven caps for the Kiwis, scoring four tries to date and being included in their Rugby World Cup squad last year.
It is a big boost for both the national side and his franchise as they look to compete for further honours in the coming years, but first up for Reece and the Crusaders is a visit to face the Chiefs in round two of this year’s Super Rugby as they attempt to make it four titles in a row.
Rugby Australia Want Rugby League Youngster
Rugby Australia are looking into the possibility of tempting one of Rugby League’s hottest prospects to come to Rugby Union
Rugby Australia are attempting to persuade Rugby League youngster Joseph Suaalii to switch codes following talks with incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie.
The 16-year-old currently plays Rugby League for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and is contracted to the side until 2021, but following a series of impressive displays Rugby Australia are set to enter a bidding war for his services.
Rennie was in Australia to fulfill media duties last week for the first time since being announced as head coach.
The current Glasgow Warriors head coach visited all four Super Rugby franchises during his trip, but it is understood that he also held talks with Suaalii following recommendation from Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson.
It is believed that he is the only player that is not a Wallaby already or Super Rugby player that Rennie visited for talks.
The NRL club are thought to be trying to upgrade and extend the youngsters contract already in order to fend off any approaches from Rugby Australia.
However, it is understood that Rennie and Rugby Australia are using the possibility of a spot in the Wallabies’ 2023 Rugby World Cup squad as a bonus to Suaalii if he were to sign with them according to reports.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will be all too aware that last year Rugby Australia managed to pry away another Rugby League prospect in Suliasi Vunivalu who has agreed to sign the Reds come next season, showing the temptation to switch codes.
Blues Confirm Trio of Injuries
The Blues have confirmed that three of their players will be out of action in the coming weeks due to injury
In what was their opening game of the new season things could hardly have turned out worse for the New Zealand-based franchise as they not only lost the game but have now lost star back Rieko Ioane, hooker Ray Niuia and prop Alex Hodgman for the foreseeable future.
Ioane is the biggest loss to the team having starred during their defeat as he scored two tries at Eden Park, but he has fractured his hand and will now miss “several weeks” of action in what is a major blow.
Meanwhile, things are even worse for Niuia who has sustained a knee injury that has ruled him out of the remainder of the season after just one game. While Hodgman is out following a calf tear during the game.
In some more positive news for the franchise veteran hooker James Parsons could return from his own injury lay-off this week as well as Otere Black, with the duo hopeful of returning to action to help ease the injury-hit team.
However, it is a huge loss to the team, but they will hope that they can manage to pull things together despite the set-backs when they face the Waratahs this weekend as they search for their first win of the campaign.
Leinster Make it 11 PRO14 Wins in a Row
Ludik Returns for Ulster’s Ospreys Trip
Leinster Go Strong for Cheetahs Clash
2019/20 Season Fixtures & Results
These are class. All the Irish Rugby Gifs
The Low-down on Ulster’s New Signings
International1 week ago
Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings
6 Nations5 days ago
England Confirm 25-Man Training Squad
International1 week ago
New Zealand Rugby to Consider Change
International1 week ago
Wallabies to Play Test in Newcastle
Rugby4 days ago
Rugby Australia Looking Into New Competition
Premiership4 days ago
Young Eying Up New Job
Champions Cup1 week ago
Saracens Face EPCR Misconduct Hearing
6 Nations7 days ago
Ireland Release 13 for PRO14 Duty