Cultivate New Zealand-born talent for Super Rugby, don’t import it
NOTICE: There is absolutely no need for our Super Rugby teams to go fishing beyond our international borders.
And yet, the Crusaders have signed Argentina free striker Pablo Matera for next season.
The Crusaders have long wowed the best young talent in the country, still have a lot of depth, and they win well most of the time, so they hardly need an international player.
All that’s going to do is keep an Ethan Blackadder type player on the bench.
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It smacks of a win-win attitude unlike their supposedly miracle development program.
New Zealand is a producer of rugby talent that should be developed by our Super Rugby teams rather than wasting Kiwi dollars on established foreign stars.
Matera has been with Stade Français in Paris and will have racked up big euros there, so it’s fair to assume he will be heavily rewarded in Christchurch. NZ Rugby should fight this.
New Zealand still have a lot of free attackers. Last year the Hurricanes unnecessarily signed South African winger Kobus van Wyk, who was also heading to the Manawatū Turbos after Super Rugby before heading to the Leicester Tigers.
At the Highlanders, Tony Brown brought in Kazuki Himeno from Japan, a handsome international striker, but he is not one of us and his presence was not in New Zealand’s interest either.
The Highlanders have done it before with Japanese half-back Fumiaki Tanaka for seven seasons starting in 2013 and Englishman James Haskell on a virtual working holiday in 2012-13, even though he only earned $ 20,000 per season and was sick of discipline.
The Manawatū Turbos have shelled out a lot to foreign players since their inception in 2006, but generally because the supply of affordable domestic players has run out.
Argentina full-back Francisco Bosch thrilled everyone in that first year until coach Dave Rennie told him to stop directing the ball on his way to practice.
While many turned out to be duds long after their prime, Canadian propeller Hubert “ Moose ” Buydens was instrumental in the Turbos’ championship victory in 2014.
Prop Michael Ala’alatoa was brought to Manawatū from Sydney in 2015 after things stopped at the Waratahs. The move resurrected his career, as did the Crusaders.
He has remained in New Zealand ever since and by virtue of his residency he became eligible for the All Blacks who were interested in him until a faulty scrum against Taranaki made his chips. He ended up siding with Samoa, his father’s team.
Meanwhile, the question of the allocation of outside players was bubbling between Turbos and senior clubs this season.
Almost all clubs say they haven’t had a fair distribution of newly recruited players when they are brought into the province. However, when they arrive they kick out a club regular who has been there all season and that’s not fair either.
This is the same problem that importing schools blithely ignore when they beef up their first XV without any regard for their real students.
Feilding Yellows would love to have their share of new Turbos, but they hardly need any reinforcements this year. They win, are undefeated and prefer to stick with their loyal soldiers who get the job done.
We hear Old Boys-Marist, who have the sponsorship power, complaining about the same problem and having three Turbos sent, only two of them are injured for a few weeks.
Freyberg received a group of young talents from the Manawatū academy and it is difficult to oppose efforts to strengthen them after too many years of mediocrity in Siberia.
The jets are on
It was good for the Manawatū Jets basketball players and the peace of mind of coach Tim McTamney to have beaten Taranaki on Sunday afternoon.
A sixth consecutive loss would have prolonged the season. American Guard Daishon Knight is worth seeing; he walks totally on gravity-defying air and his outings got the Jets to 26-16 at the start only for the defense to expire.
Earmuffs are almost mandatory at these games and something needs to be done with the screaming and unintelligible court microphone. While the kids were more interested in the lollipop scrambling, the crowd and Jake McKinlay’s bombs stuck up the Jets’ defense to exclude the Mountain Men in the second half.
Put things back in order
At the recent Super Sixes Golf Tournament in Hokowhitu, it was publicly claimed out of nowhere that Manawatū Golf Club is New Zealand’s oldest.
After spending dozens of hours researching this topic for the club’s 125th anniversary book, I discovered that at least nine clubs had been formed before Manawatū’s in 1895, starting with Otago in 1871. .
The others were Christchurch, Hutt, New Plymouth, North Otago, Poverty Bay, Auckland, Timaru and Whanganui.
Manawatū is however the oldest golf club on its original location. He was formed just 19 days before Wellington’s, who moved and now carries the title of Poncy of Royal Wellington.