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    Jordan Taufua u-turns on Japan move

    2018-06-29 12:19

    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 loose forward. 

    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 ranks. 

    "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.”

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