Manawatū Turbos coach Mike Rogers has confirmed an exciting squad for his first season at the helm in the Bunnings Warehouse NPC.

Star No 8 Brayden Iose returns as captain after a stellar Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes.

Rogers named a 40-strong squad on Thursday, with the group including three on training contracts (hooker Chris Cairns, loose forward Julian Goerke and midfielder Pena Va’a), two injured for the season (Tyler Laubscher and Micaiah Torrence-Read) and one with the All Blacks (Aaron Smith).

There is plenty of depth across the squad with a host of academy graduates included for the first time.

Headlining the academy graduates are New Zealand Under 20s hookers Vernon Bason and Raymond Tuputupu who will compete with College Old Boys rake Leif Schwenke for minutes.

At prop, Joe Gavigan and Flyn Yates return for their third seasons with veteran Sean Paranihi. They are joined by New Zealand Under 20s prop Malakai Hala-Ngatai, Freyberg duo Darius Mafile’o and Feleti Sae-Ta’ufo’ou and Canadian Cole Keith.

Josh Taula scored a try on his debut at lock last season and he is expected to see plenty of gametime this year while competing with Kia Toa’s Ofa Tauatevalu and recruits Stan van den Hoven and Johan Momsen.

Iose and TK Howden bring Super Rugby experience to the loose forwards. Slade McDowell returns for a second season after an injury-ravaged 2022 campaign, while academy graduate Elyjah Crosswell and the dependable Johnny Galloway will also battle for the starting jerseys.

Luke Campbell is back for a second campaign at halfback along with New Zealand Under 20s halfback Jordi Viljeon and Irish No 9 John Poland.

All Blacks XV first five-eighth Brett Cameron returns as the incumbent No 10 and will face competition from Fiji Under 20s playmaker Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula.

In the midfield the ever-reliable Jason Emery will be joined by an exciting group including academy graduate Kyle Brown, 2022 Rookie of the Year Kegan Christian-Goss and powerhouse Tima Fainga’anuku, who is back for his third season.

Player-coach Nehe Milner-Skudder will face some heavy competition for gametime in the back three with Taniela Filimone and Drew Wild expected to see plenty of time on the field. 2017-19 Turbo Te Rangatira Waitokia returns along with Fiji Under 20s and academy graduate Waqa Nalaga and former New Zealand Sevens representative Beaudein Waaka.

The squad includes six Feilding High School alumni – Brown, Bason, Howden, Wild, Smith and Cairns, nine out of Palmerston North Boys’ High School – Emery, Iose, Yates, Galloway, Tuputupu, Sae-Ta’ufo’ou, Mafile’o, Laubscher and Crosswell, two from Manukura – Hala-Ngatai and Gavigan, and one from Queen Elizabeth College – Milner-Skudder.

The season kicks off with a home game against Wellington on August 5 at Central Energy Trust Arena. Tickets are on sale now!


Article added: Thursday 27 July 2023


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