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The Southland Stags coaching group has further beefed up its experience by signing former Hawke’s Bay loose forward Tony Lamborn for the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
Yesterday, Stags coach Dave Hewett revealed a 26-man Stags squad for the Mitre 10 Cup season, which for Southland starts against Hawke’s Bay in Invercargill on August 19.
Hewett has left room to contract up to six further players for the season.
Some of the yet-to-be-confirmed players would be Mitre 10 Cup-ready players who might have been overlooked elsewhere.
The other spots would go to younger players who the Stags coaches wanted to get into the environment and help develop for the future, Hewett said.
That process of filling those extra spots was well under way and Hewett expected most of the them would be nailed down within the next week.
In the lead-up to naming the squad Hewett said he was keen to add more experience to the mix this year.
It started by signing experienced Taranaki outside back Jackson Ormond, as well as utility James Wilson, who has more than 200 professional games under his belt.
Lamborn also brings experience to the Stags with 39 games for Hawke’s Bay, four games for the Hurricanes at Super Rugby level, and 16 internationals for the United States.
Lamborn has been playing in the US domestic competition and would join the Stags next week.
Hewett had previously worked with Lamborn when Hewett was part of the US coaching setup.
"It is his sixth year [of Mitre 10 Cup], he’s also had international experience, he’s played in America in the new major league rugby competition, and then you add to that, Jackson [Ormond] and James [Wilson].
"It hopefully gives that calming influence when things get tough, and it will, it’s the nature of rugby," Hewett said.
"[Lamborn] also gives us that ability to cover all three loose forward positions and that is a big thing. We are probably needing a No 8, more than a six or seven, when you’ve got Phil [Halder], Wade [McRae] and those sorts of guys.
"I said to him, No 8 is his focus in terms of getting up to speed in how our No 8s will play the game."
New Zealand Rugby rules did allow Southland to officially assemble its squad on Thursday.
However it will be on Monday, after Saturday’s premier club rugby final, when Hewett gets them all together.
Otago has opted to pull its players out of club rugby at the crunch stage of the club season to begin its campaign.Hewett did not believe it would be wise to follow suit.
"It wouldn’t be a good look for me. I was out at Edendale [on Thursday night] and I said, ‘if I did that I would have been chased down the highway’."
"I’ve played club finals before and I know how much they mean to players. I know players who have gone to the highest level, I’m talking the World Cup winners, who have never won a club final.
"It is always something that sits in the back of your mind. So that is why I didn’t want to get involved."
- Logan Savory
Bill Fukofuka, Brayden Mitchell, Brenton Howden, Chris Apoua, Flynn Thomas, Jack Capil, Joe Walsh, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Morgan Mitchell, Phil Halder, Ray Tatafu, Reuben Northover, Shaun Stodart, Tony Lamborn, Wade McRae, Aleki Morris, Greg Dyer, Jackson Ormond, James Wilson, Jay Renton, Lewis Ormond, Matt Johnson, Nico Costa, Ray Nu’u, Tauasosi Tuimavave, Tayler Adams.