Hurricanes sign 'freakish' Wellington teenager as 2021 squad nears completion
The Hurricanes have announced the signing of young utility back, Ruben Love, on a multi-year deal.
The 19-year-old is a former Palmerston North Boys’ High dux who represented the school’s 1st XV and the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad.
He’s also a handy cricketer, having played for New Zealand’s Under-19 squad last year.
Since graduating at the end of 2019, Love went straight into the Wellington Lions environment where he scored a try against Bay of Plenty on debut.
He says the experience has been a dream come true.
“It has been a massive step up from schoolboy and club rugby in all facets of the game, but having the support of the boys and coaches made it an effective environment to grow and develop as a person and a player.
“Scoring that try was a surreal moment for me and my family. Playing at Sky Stadium was always a dream of mine as a kid and I just wanted all my family and friends from back home in Palmerston North to be proud of me. It was for them.”
A former coach of his at PNBHS, Blair Van Stipriaan says Love possesses “freakish” physical attributes and a desire to “outwork everyone” – so his rise to success comes as no surprise.
“He is an awesome young man and as a school and as a 1st XV community, we are massively proud of what he has achieved. His former teammates will all say to you that none of this is unexpected. He has worked hard to get to where he is and will not rest on his laurels and his signing will be a trigger for him to work harder still.”
Van Stipriaan says he was fortunate enough to witness Love’s debut for the Lions and was incredibly proud of what he witnessed.
NRL star Shaun Johnson has appeared to criticise rugby for sending players off for "hitting too hard" and wondered why rugby league isn't as big as union globally.https://t.co/beu09IRVSd
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 19, 2020
“The passion he displayed after scoring the try was very un-Ruben, but the journey that he has been on since leaving our gates has tested him and that was a special moment for him and his whanau.”
Hurricanes head coach, Jason Holland, says he’s looking forward to seeing Love enter the ranks of Super Rugby.
“Ruben is a quality young man who has all the skills. He can play a number of positions due to his skillset. He is still learning the game and what is required at Super level but will grow quickly and we expect him to add massive value to our squad for 2021 and many years in the future.”
The acquisition of Love leaves just six unfilled spots in the Hurricanes’ roster for next year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaigns.
Capable of playing across the backline, primarily at first-five and fullback, the teenager may be in line to act as a third-choice option at No. 10, with only Jackson Garden-Bachop and Simon Hickey publicly signed as the franchise’s playmakers for next year.
With Jordie Barrett and Chase Tiatia also signed on for 2021, Love’s chances of playing at fullback aren’t high, although he may feature on the wing at some stage, with only Vince Aso, Wes Goosen and Julian Savea already locked in for the upcoming season.
Four of the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises will announce their 2021 squads on December 1, with the Crusaders reportedly expected to name their squad the following day.
Hurricanes 2020-21 transfers
In: Simon Hickey (Edinburgh), Ruben Love (Wellington), Julian Savea (Toulon)
Out: Ben Lam (Bordeaux), TJ Perenara (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Kobus van Wyk (Leicester Tigers)
– With Hurricanes Rugby
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