Over the weekend, news out of Australia came through that Taane Milne had signed with New Zealand Warriors. As has been the case while the Warriors go about re-shuffling their second tier, or wider reserve grade group, this doesn't seem overly interesting and you'd be foreign for not even knowing who this Milne lad is, yet this is another beautiful piece of Warriors recruitment.
This is beautiful for a number of reasons, one of which is the general trend that signing Milne falls under; smart, solid, useful, resourceful signings. Not the flashy signings or paying 'overs' to get blokes to travel across the ditch, but signing players who fit the required talent level and want to buy into the changes that have taken place at Mt Smart.
I wanted to hit that broad, general point first because while it may appear as though the Warriors have only signed Leeson Ah Mau from another NRL club, they have been busy in the reserve grade ranks. Whether it's luring Ah Mau back home, getting Issac Luke on the cheap, snapping up a young Aussie half wanting an opportunity in Adam Keighran, or getting Milne; all the Warriors dealings are wise footy moves and wise financial moves.
There a few layers to the Milne story at work here. First of all, Milne was born in Auckland and spent his childhood in Aotearoa before moving to Australia. As such, Milne made the Junior Kiwis at centre in 2014 and 2015 from Sydney Roosters where he played his Under 20s footy. Then came a move to the Dragons where Milne looked bloody impressive last season, he played the World Cup and earned a deal with Wests Tigers for 2018.
However, Milne got caught up in some drugs stuff and was released by the Tigers, playing out the second half of the season with Mounties in New South Wales' reserve grade. That leads us to where we are now with Milne in desperate need of an opportunity and as per the yarn out of Australia, Milne will join the Warriors on a two year deal that will start with Milne living with his whanau in Auckland.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was a Roosters comrade while Milne was there and Peter O'Sullivan would have had a bit to do with Milne as well in his old Rooster recruitment role. Sam Lisone and Jazz Tevaga were in the Junior Kiwis with Milne and given the scenario, one would have to assume that Milne arrives at Mt Smart on a small contract.
Anyone who watched Milne at centre for the Dragons, knows this dude is a monster. He's light on his feet, powerful up top and loves an offload, but with a couple of off-field marks against his name, this could be perceived as a dangerous move from the Warriors.
Well, that's if you're the dramatic type. The Warriors would have undoubtedly done their due-diligence and given the staff at Mt Smart, along with the leaders in the playing group, there shouldn't be any issues with Milne. Especially not when Milne is the one desperate for a crack and the Warriors aren't exactly short of options in the outside back department right now. In fact, they probably don't even need Milne, but picking up such a talent at this price is a shrewd business move.
Had this been any previous incarnation of the Warriors, this would be weird. In 2018 though, the Warriors could sign any bad boy type of player and I'd be confident in their culture that they can be the support which that player needs. Milne has already served his suspension, a 12-week rest and then took the field for Mounties, so he's otherwise cleared for footy.
There has been noise that the Warriors had signed Patrick Herbert as well. I wrote about that when Keighran got signed and it seemed like that deal had been done with Herbert leaving the Dragons to return to Auckland where he came up playing 1st 15 rugby. Both Milne and Herbert can play centre/wing, with Herbert also dabbling in fullback this year for Illawara Steelers.
I'm not sure where this now leaves the possible Herbert deal. Ideally, Herbert comes as well and the Warriors end up with an impressive pool of depth. We will wait to see what happens there and with regards to Milne specifically, the Warriors have taken on no risk and I'd suggest that there could be a very high upside if Milne wants to stick around.
The Warriors have sign Keighran from Penrith Panthers and Milne from footy oblivion. Herbert could be next and The Niche Cache will obviously be all over any other signing news for you beautiful Warriors geezers.
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Peace and love 27.