Waratahs sign All Black star's brother as one of two new recruits
The New South Wales franchise have picked up Hamdan Tuipulotu on an Extended Development Squad contract to help bolster the squad’s stocks at tighthead prop following injuries in their front row.
“We had some unforeseen personnel losses at prop and needed to strengthen our squad in that area,” Waratahs head coach Darren Coleman said via a press release on Friday.
“We liked what we saw from Hamdan and worked hard with Western Sydney Two Blues to bring him across to Sydney.
“We view Hamdan as a project player for the future and feel he will contribute strongly to not only our program but also the Western Sydney Two Blues and their resurgence in the Shute Shield.”
Tuipulotu – who six years younger than Patrick, the 41-test All Blacks lock currently on sabbatical in Japan with Toyota Verblitz – said the opportunity to join the Waratahs was a significant one in his budding professional career.
“The Waratahs are a world-class team and I’m excited to be here. It was definitely an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” he said.
“From the outside looking in, the last few years seemed tough, but there’s so much potential here and a great coaching staff and I can’t wait to see what we can do on the field.”
Tuipulotu is one of two Kiwi players called upon by the Waratahs on the eve of the new Super Rugby Pacific campaign, with Hawke’s Bay and ex-Hurricanes lock Geoff Cridge also joining the Sydney-based side for the upcoming season.
Cridge, a former New Zealand U20 representative, spent five seasons with the Hurricanes between 2015 and 2019, but only managed one appearance against the Southern Kings in 2016 as injuries plagued him throughout his time in Wellington.
However, the 26-year-old second rower impressed Coleman from afar while playing for Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s NPC.
“Obviously I’m massive fan of the Shute Shield and it will always be my first port of call for talent,” Coleman said.
“However, it’s been no secret that within this team we have been on the lookout to find a high-quality tight head lock, and unfortunately we were unable to find one there.
“Geoff Cridge comes to us from New Zealand where he’s performed strongly over the past two seasons with Hawke’s Bay in the NPC.
“He fits the type of player we need at the tight head lock position, bringing plenty of size and experience, and we’re excited to see him compete with the guys we have here in Jed Holloway, Max Douglas, Jeremy Williams and Hugh Sinclair.
“We’re also delighted that he’s decided to choose West Harbour as his Shute Shield club, where he will be a real asset to their rugby program.”
Cridge added that he is eager to return to Super Rugby following a string of frustrating campaigns that have denied him the chance to realise his lofty potential.
“The last two years I’ve had off I’ve had an itch to play Super Rugby, so to get another chance here at the Waratahs is something I’m definitely going to make the most of,” he said.
“There’s a good group of lads here, everyone gets around each other and stays really connected. No-one is bigger than the team and it’s a great environment to be a part of and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Both players join the Waratahs on the back of a horror 2021 season where they went winless in both Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
The Waratahs will be aiming to change their fortunes this year, with their season scheduled to begin when they host the Fijian Drua at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta on February 18.
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