Promising young backs sign for ’17

Promising young backs sign for ’17

Photo: Stephen Perofeta, playing for the NZ Under-20 side in 2016.

Two young backline prospects from Taranaki and Otago will head to the Blues for next year’s Investec Super Rugby Championship.

Teenage first-five Stephen Perofeta, originally from Wanganui but playing for Taranaki, and Otago utility Michael Collins have signed to join the Blues, it was announced today.

Both players have represented New Zealand at age grade level, Schools and/or New Zealand Under-20, and have impressed in the Mitre-10 Cup competition this season.

Perofeta, 19, is a player for the future to join established pivots Ihaia West and Piers Francis at the Blues. He was a finalist for Heartland player of the year in 2015 after his debut for Wanganui as a schoolboy, scoring more than 100 points before scoring 58 points in three games for the NZ Heartland XV.

He moved to Taranaki and was selected for the NZ Under-20s for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

“He is a young player who is achieving beyond his years and we believe is an outstanding prospect for the future,” said Blues coach Tana Umaga. “We’ve been watching Stephen for some time and believe he has the attributes we need and the maturity even at his age to make a real contribution to the Blues.

“First five has been a priority position for the past two seasons and we have been working closely with some exciting young first fives coming through in the region, but they are not yet ready to blood at Super level.

Collins, 23, is formerly from Queenstown before moving to Dunedin where he captained Otago Boys and was selected for the NZ Schools in 2011 and New Zealand Under-20s in 2013.

He moved to the Otago team and last year spent the off-season playing for Llanelli in the Welsh competition as injury cover before returning for the Mitre 10 Cup.

Collins is a utility who can play midfield or in the back three, and has made his mark this year at fullback 

“Michael is another to come through the national age group system. We believe he has the speed and skills required to cover a number of backline positions and will be a real asset to the Blues.”

The Blues will finalise their squad in the coming weeks with the announcement in early November.