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
Highlanders Confirm Trio of Signings
The Highlanders have announced the arrival of three new players following the departure of a host of key men at the end of last season
Collins, who was the Otago captain, and Misiloi have penned one-year contracts with the New Zealand based franchise.
However, Koroi, has signed a three-year deal which will see him miss the majority of next season so to allow him to be in selection contention for the All Blacks Sevens at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Koroi is probably the most exciting of the three to have arrived as he can cover fly-half, wing and full-back and at only 21 will continue to grow as a player.
The other exciting prospect for the Highlanders is that they have already signed another All Blacks youngster in Scott Gregory, who is a blossoming full-back that has lit up the stage at underage levels.
The thought of Gregory and Koroi linking up is great but both are trying to get into that Sevens team and will be out of selection contention next season.
As well as that trio and Gregory the Highlanders have also signed Connor Garden-Bachop, Mitch Hunt, Jona Nakeri and Ngane Punivai in what has been an eventful transfer period so far.
However, the signings were vital following the departure of 12 key players including the likes of Jackson Hemopo, Matt Faddes, Ben Smith, Liam Squire and Luke Whitelock.
Although it might take a bit of time to get the squad together the new signings are promising for the franchise’s future.
Sharks Add Lions Star to Squad
The Sharks have seen a number of players leave this summer, but now they have started to add some promising stars ahead of the new season
The Sharks have confirmed the signing of from the Lions ahead of the 2020 season.
The 22-year-old also joins back-rower James Venter who linked up with the squad yesterday.
RugbyPass are also reporting that the Sharks are looking at bringing in Ox Nche and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, while Rugby365 also claim that the Durban-based franchise are hoping to sign Werner Kok and Henco Venter.
The side are looking to rebuild following the departure of a number of players which includes the three du Preez brothers, Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe, who have all headed to Sale Sharks in the Premiership.
Despite the leaving players the Sharks still have the likes of S’bu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi on their roster in what is an exciting prospect ahead of the new season.
Dyantyi’s B-Sample Test Results Come Back
Aphiwe Dyantyi has been accused of doping and after asking for his B-sample tests to be checked, he has learned his fate
Springboks winger Aphiwe Dyantyi has failed in his B-sample doping test after prohibited substances were found his A-sample previously.
The 25-year-old has been formally charged with having multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites in both samples that were provided to the South African Institute of Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).
SAIDS have now informed SA Rugby and Dyantyi’s Super Rugby franchise the Lions of the situation as they now decide what to do.
“SA Rugby, the Lions Rugby Company and Dyantyi are working with SAIDS, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and all other relevant authorities on the matter and no further comment can be made at this stage,” a statement read.
Last weekend the Lions player issued his own statement in which he plead his innocence before his B-sample was tested.
“I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field. I believe in hard work and fair play. I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me and together with my management team and experts appointed by them, we are doing everything we can to get to the source of this and to prove my innocence,” he added.
He went on to say that he would never have taken any substances and that the next sample would prove that he hadn’t.
“As a professional sportsman on the national and international level, we get tested on a regular basis. I have been tested before and again since this test. It is part of the job and we all know that each and every player is bound to get tested at least two to four times a year. Taking any prohibited substance would not only be irresponsible and something that I would never intentionally do. It would also be senseless and stupid. I underwent a drug test on June 15 (only two weeks prior to the July 2 test) which did not return any adverse finding,” he added.
Dyantyi is now facing the prospect of a four-year ban from rugby after being capped by the Springboks 13 times, however, failing to make the Rugby World Cup squad. He will have his chance prove his innocence, but he will need a seriously could case behind him to reverse the decision.
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