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Blues tie down 7 players.

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

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 Perofeta, who will continue at the Blues until 2021, while young star Caleb Clarke has signed until 2022.

“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

Rugby Championship

Wallabies wing leaves Australia for Japan venture

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Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Marika Koroibete is officially leaving Australian rugby and the Melbourne Rebels, with the star winger confirming his move to Japan on Friday.

Amid much ado in Japan, Robbie Deans’ 2021 championship-winning Panasonic Wild Knights welcomed Koroibete for the country’s first fully professional season next year.

The 2019 John Eales Medallist as Australia’s player of the year will link up with the Wild Knights for the Japan Rugby League One kicking off on January 7.

While widely forecast, Koroibete’s departure is nevertheless a huge blow for the Rebels and Wallabies, with Test coach Dave Rennie reluctant to use overseas-based players for national duty.

“I am very excited to be joining Saitama from 2022 season. I have been a big fan of the growing game in Japan and enjoyed my time in the country for the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” Koroibete said.

“I am looking forward to joining a very successful organisation that strives for greatness and working hard to ensure Panasonic continue to win titles.

“I have heard great things about Robbie Deans coaching and have had pleasant experiences in our brief chats so far. I cannot wait to join Robbie’s coaching staff and the rest of the team, train hard and get the fans off their seats.

“My family and I are excited to arrive in Japan and experience more of the country’s great culture whilst playing some great rugby with an exciting team, great coaching staff, successful organisation and thriving rugby competition.”

The Wild Knights won the last Top League title this year, beating Suntory Sungoliath, who have Eddie Jones as a consultant in the final.

Koroibete will join fellow Australians Dylan Riley and loose forwards Jack Cornelsen and Ben Gunter on the club’s roster.

Source – Australia Rugby

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Rugby Championship

Australia centre confirms French move

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Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani said on Wednesday he will end his Test career as he joins French Top 14 club Biarritz next season.

Kuridrani, 30, who made the last of his 61 Wallabies appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, has signed a two-year deal with the newly promoted outfit from the Basque Country.

He has spent almost a decade with two Australian franchises.

“Thank you @brumbiesrugby @wallabies and the @westernforce for 10
incredible years in Super Rugby and 6 in the green & gold,” he posted
on Twitter.

“Time for a new chapter,” he added.

Kuridrani made his debut for the Brumbies in 2012, going on to play 135 games for the club.

He would become a stalwart of the club as he nailed down a starting spot in his second season, helping the club to the Super Rugby Final and a historic win over the British and Irish Lions.

The 31-year-old moved to the Western Force in 2021, playing an integral role in their maiden finals appearance in Super Rugby AU.

Fijian-born Kuridrani, who would still be eligible for his country having won more than 60 caps, will link up with fellow Australia back Henry Speight at the Parc des Sports d’Aguilera as well as ex-New Zealand centre Francis Saili and former England No. 8 Steffon Armitage.

Biarritz, five-time French champions, have also signed Argentina scrum-half and Force teammate Tomas Cubelli and Ireland prop James Cronin as they return to the top flight for the first time in seven years.

Source – Australia Rugby

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Super Rugby

LA Gilitinies Coach confirmed as NSW Waratahs coach

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The NSW Waratahs have confirmed Darren Coleman as head coach for 2022 and beyond.

Coleman has signed a three-year deal following an extensive 25-year coaching career, arriving from MLR club LA Giltinis in the USA.

The 48-year-old made his name in the Shute Shield, winning competitions with Warringah (2017) and Gordon (2020), along with serving as head coach and director of rugby of the NSW Country Eagles in the NRC.

“I’m passionate about the opportunity to coach the Waratahs. I’m coming home to what I regard as my dream job, one I’ve been preparing for over many years,” he said in a statement.

“I also know that this role comes with an enormous responsibility to establish a winning team that will proudly represent the people of NSW as a collective of the professional and community game.

“We have a great deal of work to do to regain our place as the best provincial rugby team in the country. That means a team that Waratahs’ members and fans are proud of and the team that every rugby-loving kid in NSW wants to play for as they are growing up.

“I want our players to get back their love of the game, to rebuild their confidence in themselves and in the team. I want them to bring back that winning culture at the Waratahs.

“Finally, I genuinely want to express my gratitude to the LA Giltinis’ ownership and management for allowing me to take this opportunity and thank the Los Angeles Rugby Community for their support in 2021.”

Maya Stewart lights up the Brumbies to help the Waratahs win comfortably in round three

Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn is confident Coleman is the right man to turn around their fortunes given his vast experience across all levels of NSW Rugby.

“Darren has all the experience that comes from learning the art of coaching over many years and in many different competitions,” Doorn added.

“He’s had success with the Shute Shield clubs in Sydney and he knows the bush and he knows the players and he can draw on the experience gained at overseas clubs, to bring success to the Waratahs.

“The Waratahs represent all of NSW, the players who come through our pathways know they can graduate from Shute Shield to professional rugby and now we have a coach who not only understands that system, but who comes from that system too.

“He’s passionate about bringing that all together and uniting everyone behind the Waratahs and I’m confident we have someone who can lead us to becoming the best provincial team in the country.”

LA Giltinis General Manager and Waratahs legend Adam Freier said the decision to return home has their blessing, with the club currently sitting at the top of the Major League Rugby ladder.

“We are an aspirational club that always wants our players, coaches and staff to achieve their dreams. For that reason, Darren goes with our absolute support,” Freier said.

“We are proud of what Darren has helped build and that the achievements of the Giltinis continue to gain recognition worldwide.

“This is a significant moment in time for the club and MLR that such an iconic franchise as the Waratahs has this faith in our rugby program, culture and its people.

“Already, we are seeing several of our players selected for the USA Eagles and Canada and come into contention for national honors which will remain our focus and underpin the foundations of the club.

“Darren has always done things differently. He is a team-builder and a winner and those traits will continue to strongly guide the Giltinis through the final month of this season and the years ahead.

“He is a good ‘Rugby man’ and dear friend to all of us here at the club. We wish his wife Pauline and kids Jake and Ella the very best in their next chapter. They will always be welcome here at the Giltinis and be part of the LA Rugby Family.”

Source – Australia Rugby

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