Jordan Taufua u-turns on Japan move
Cape Town - The Crusaders and Tasman Makos are set to benefit from
Jordan Taufua's decision to back out of a contract with a Japanese club.
The hard-hitting loose forward, included in the All Blacks
squad to play France earlier this month but sidelined with injury, has been
granted a release from the Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars club before playing
a game for them.
Originally expected to depart the country after completing
his Crusaders’ commitments, the 26-year-old will now return to Tasman's ranks,
making him eligible for national selection.
While that is good news for Tasman, they may not see too
much of Taufua, who was inspirational for the Mako on their road to the Mitre
10 Cup Final last season.
The All Blacks selectors will choose a 33-man squad for the
Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship and, as Taufua was a member of the group
picked for the domestic series against France, he will likely be retained.
If he is selected, Tasman could have four All Blacks on
their books - Shannon Frizell, Liam Squire, Tim Perry and Taufua - leaving Mako
coach Leon MacDonald to look further afield for replacements, especially at
The rugged loose forward is contracted to return to the
Crusaders in 2019.
Tasman Rugby Union chief executive officer Tony Lewis, who
confirmed that Taufua had signed with the union on Wednesday, said he and
MacDonald had been talking with Taufua’s manager "virtually from the time
he decided to go to Japan” and we were always keen to keep him in the Mako
"We were also keen to respect the fact he had made the
decision on what he wanted to do, so when he came back about 10 days ago and
said ‘I have changed my mind’ we didn’t have to think too hard about it.
"We just said we want you back, so it’s very exciting
for us, potentially with three loose forwards in that All Black mix.”
Taufua was the Mako player of the year in 2017, Lewis
suggesting "he is a crucial part to our jigsaw and we saw that the other
day [Wednesday] when he played for the [Tasman] Buccaneers against Counties …
his leadership, enthusiasm and the way he inspired the young guys around him,
just showed the mark of the man.”