Hughes returns to Turbos for Otago clash
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. It appears Tom Hughes’ return to the Manawatu Turbos is a marriage made in heaven.
The 25-year-old lock will start this weekend against Otago, less than one week after signing with the side on loan from Canterbury.
But 2.03m Hughes is no stranger to Turbos fans.
The former Palmerston North Boys’ High School student was playing club rugby for the Sky Blues of Varsity until making the shift south late last year.
He played four games for the Turbos in 2014 before injuries ruined his 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
He returned from his back injury in 2017, but when he missed the Turbos’ cut he took his opportunity to try his hand at a different province.
“My partner got posted to Christchurch for the police so I thought I would go down there for a bit of a restart and play some footy down there,” he said.
After an injury free season with Sydenham, he was pleased to be back playing regular rugby.
He also got a crack playing for Canterbury in the preseason, turning out in the Game of Three Halves against Otago and the All Blacks.
With the Turbos down No 8 Sam Wasley and the suspended Liam Hallam-Eames, he got the call from Turbos coach Jeremy Cotter.
He was surprised to find he’d be injected straight into the starting XV.
“I thought wold be here and be and be a help to the lads, I was not too sure about week one, but I am happy to be thrown in the deep end.”
Hughes is one of four changes to the starting XV for the Turbos’ clash with Otago.
Halfback Jamie Booth, first five-eighth Jade Te Rure and wing James Tofa will start.
It will be Tofa’s first start for the Turbos after coming off the bench on debut against Taranaki.
Tofa was a standout in the club campaign for College Old Boys where he claimed the Best and Fairest award.
His selection on the left wing has seen Nehe Milner-Skudder shifted to the right wing for the match, with Te Rangatira Waitokia dropping out of the matchday side.
Brad Tucker, Kayne Hammington and Sam Malcolm are on the bench after starting last week.
Manawatu Turbos: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 James Tofa, 10 Jade Te Rure, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Brice Henderson, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (c), 6 Liam Mitchell, 5 Tom Hughes, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Tim Cadwallader, 1 Fraser Armstrong. Reserves: 16 Sam Stewart, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Sione Asi, 19 Sam Slade, 20 Brad Tucker, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Sam Malcolm, 23 Lifeimi Mafi