Tasman snare youth talent to boost potential

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Friday, August 11, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Banks, in his 40 games for Tasman, left an indelible imprint by leaving with the individual points scoring record for the side of 628 points.

However, when landing the match-winning dropped goal from close to halfway for the Crusaders to beat the Highlanders in injury time, Hunt marked his arrival on the scene.

He will have a key role to play for Tasman in the weeks and seasons ahead.

That is good news for the side's coaching team of Leon MacDonald who has Leo Crowley, Andrew Goodman and Greg Somerville as his assistants.

Tasman's success in recent years has made it a much more appealing place for emerging players to develop at this level of rugby and a classic instance is fullback Will Jordan, who was a key player in New Zealand's World Cup-winning Under-20 side this year. He played his club rugby in Christchurch this year but had been a target for Tasman for a year or two.

Chief executive Tony Lewis said: "He said he wanted to wear the red and black, being the red and black of the Crusaders, so how was the easiest way for him to get there?

"Kids these days, the first thing they want is a pathway. If they can see a pathway they're all over it. The second thing they want is quality coaching to assist that pathway and the third thing they want is a connection with the players," he said.

With the chance to learn from former All Black Leon MacDonald, Jordan threw his lot in with Tasman.

While there is an infusion of new blood from within the region via lock Pari Pari Parkinson, first five-eighths Tim O'Malley, midfield back Levi Aumua and wing Tima Faingaanuku, there is also an experienced look to maintain the sort of level achieved in claiming third place last season. Twenty-two players in the Tasman squad have Super Rugby experience to call on.

Up front props Kane Hames, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Andrew Makalio and Tim Perry all bring recent Super Rugby experience to the side while the returning Samoan international and Crusader Ti'i Paulo will bolster the pack. Locks Alex Ainley and Quinten Strange continue that theme.

While Liam Squire is involved with the All Blacks Pete Samu and Jordan Taufua will ensure competitiveness in the loose where Vernon Fredericks, Shannon Frizzell and Ethan Blackadder provide the local resource.

Billy Guyton returns at halfback and will be joined by Finlay Christie, late of the Chiefs but with the Hurricanes next season.

Just how much the side sees David Havili will also depend on where he features in All Blacks consideration but in his absence All Blacks Sevens back Trael Joass and Alex Nankivell, who was injury cover for the Chiefs this year, will fit the bill in midfield.

James Lowe still has time to complete the New Zealand season with the side before he heads offshore and Viliami Lolohea will provide some solidity along with the potential of Jordan.