While the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls reflect on the recently completed Mitre 10 Cup season, a
talented young squad with strong local connections has been locked in for the 2020
The signings include several players who have had pivotal careers with the Bulls to date and Francis Douglas Memorial College utility back Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.
The 18-year-old, who has been hot property after consistent performances for the College's first 15, has committed to Taranaki until 2021 after signing a deal with the All Black Sevens a fortnight ago.
Head coach Willie Rickards is excited about the signing of the young player who can play in the midfield and on the wing.
"Jacob is a gifted rugby player and a wonderful young man. We are thrilled that he has
trusted us with his development."
First five-eighth Stephen Perofeta and flanker Kaylum Boshier have also re-committed to
Yarrows Taranaki and will add to their existing 32 and 10 caps respectively.
Lock Tupou Vaa'i has also re-signed for the amber and blacks.
Promising winger Kini Naholo, younger brother of Waisake, has recommitted to the Bulls
after plenty of interest from other provinces. Like Kneepkens, Perofeta, Boshier, Vaa'i and Naholo have committed through until the end of 2021.
Lock Josh Lord, who had an impressive debut season for the Bulls and played a vital role in the CMK Taranaki U19 side's season, utility forward Tom Florence, halfback Lisati Milo-Harris and centre Sean Wainui are halfway through their existing contracts with the Bulls which takes them through to the end of 2020.
Additional key signings are prop Reuben O'Neill, hooker Bradley Slater, No. 8 Pita Gus
Sowakula and lock/loose forward Fin Hoeata through until 2020 and hooker Ricky Riccitelli until the end of 2021.
Rickards is excited with the calibre of players for next year and is pleased that the bulk of
the Bulls will remain for next season.
"It's great that these players have recommitted to Taranaki Rugby. We believe we have a
talented young squad and our intention is to keep this squad together. There will be
minimal changes to the playing roster for 2020."
He said contracts are still available for CMK Taranaki premier club rugby players and with a promising season from the CMK Taranaki U19 team, the future is looking bright for Taranaki rugby.
"Taranaki Rugby is still in discussions with other key players and we will provide further
announcements in due course."
Taranaki farewelled wing Waisake Naholo, who left for London Irish at the end of the
season. Naholo played 44 matches and scored 19 tries for Taranaki and became a household name in New Zealand rugby.
Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will re-join his family in the Bay of Plenty next season after notching up 41 matches for Taranaki. Both players were selected for the All Blacks while playing for the amber and blacks and played 26 and three tests respectively.