Future Tigers back-rower Jordan Taufua is preparing for a final Mitre 10 Cup campaign ahead of his move to Leicester.
Taufua, who scooped the Super Rugby title with his Crusaders side in July, lined up at No8 for Tasman Mako as they powered past Otago in their final pre-season fixture, 54-19.
Tasman – based on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island – lost out to Canterbury in last year’s semi-finals, and will look to avenge last season’s defeat with a trip to Christchurch in Round 2 of the Cup Championship on Sunday, August 18.
The Mitre 10 Cup is styled as New Zealand’s premier domestic competition, and is made up of Premiership and Championship divisions.
The Mako’s opening fixture is a home game against Wellington at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim next Saturday, August 10.
Further home games against Manawatu, North Harbour, Auckland and Northland all follow among trips to Taranaki, Counties Manukai and Waikato, before a final-round showdown against Hawke’s Bay on Saturday, October 12.
The Napier-based Magpies are home to former Tigers back-rower Brendon O’Connor, who returns to the side where he lifted the Ranfurly Shield in 2014, and added an ITM Championship win a year later. Tigers Academy graduate Henry Purdy, most recently at Gloucester, has signed for Dunedin-based Otago.
As well as Taufua, Tasman can also call on the services of All Blacks including prop Wyatt Crockett and back-rower Liam Squire, and are captained by former New Zealand outside back David Havili.
Future Tiger Taufua is set to play for Tasman Mako until the conclusion of their Mitre 10 campaign and will link up with his Leicester team-mates later this year.