Regardless on your views, or mine on how silly the NRL's player market is and how it's nothing more than a year-long buffet, I low key love it because it can throw up situations like Jordan Kahu moving from Brisbane Broncos to North Queensland Cowboys in February. Bonkers, but super duper funky and now the Petone Rugby Club junior has a chance to suss out consistent game time at fullback.
In leaving the Broncos, Kahu bids ka kite to a club that has supported him immensely through a gang of major knee injuries. Part of my fascination with Kahu stems from him having plenty of buzz as a prospect coming through the Broncos system and maintaining that buzz despite numerous knee surgeries. I don't think there is any niggle on the Broncos side of things with Kahu and that this was a case of Kahu snapping up an opportunity to genuinely chase a role that could see him flourish in his true potential.
Not that he didn't do that with the Broncos, as Kahu was a reliable winger/centre who could fill in at fullback when required. The Broncos have no shortage of wingers (Corey Oates and Jamayne Isaako will start) and are stacked with centres; James Roberts, Kotoni Staggs, Jack Bird and Gehamat Shibasaki. Darius Boyd has fullback locked down and despite there being value in keeping Kahu, this window has opened for Kahu to himself lock down a fullback gig.
The Cowboys could have tinkered with internal options to replace Ben Barba, but instead opted to sign Kahu in another raid on the Broncos after they swooped in on Josh McQuire. In Kahu, the Cowboys have someone who can slot into fullback immediately and add a splash of experience, as well as class to their developing spine.
The one-year deal aspect is a bit weird, as it leaves the door open for Kahu to explore options and returning to rugby in Aotearoa could always be an option. This feels like a case of the Cowboys not having a whole lot to offer Kahu right now, yet should Kahu showcase his value throughout the season then the Cowboys could be able to offer more years/more money. Other than the lack of security, it's an ideal scenario for Kahu as he will earn any new contract and it's up to him to prove himself as a consistent NRL fullback with the Cowboys.
There is a minor re-freshing going on with the Cowboys and their outside back group reflects a slightly younger wave for 2019; Kyle Feldt, Javid Bowen, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Enari Tuala, Murray Taulagi, Tom Opacic (signed from Broncos) and Nene MacDonal who has moved up from the Dragons. Kahu can play a leadership role in this outside back group and greater opportunities in terms of playing footy at fullback are matched by the opportunities to develop as a leader.
Kahu's arrival will likely impact the role of fellow cuzzie, Te Maire Martin. Unfortunately and definitely not fortunately, Martin has been asked to be utility since moving to the Cowboys with minute coming at hooker and fullback as well as in the halves. I reckon that's put Martin back a few pegs in terms of #KiwiNRL halves, but with Kahu slotting in at fullback, Martin could be viewed as the regular halves partner for Michael Morgan.
The Kahu/Martin combo will be mandatory #KiwiNRL viewing this season for me and I look forward to seeing how they start the season, then how they add to their combo as the season progresses. There could be great benefit in Martin learning the other roles, adding to his game as a half. The addition of Kahu could then allow Martin to shine, as well as Kahu himself shining as a consistent fullback.
Along with Otahuhu Leopards junior Jason Taumalolo, these three will form the main #KiwiNRL crew for the Cowboys. Emry Pere is a Taniwharau (Huntly, Waikato) junior who has played the last two years for Aotearoa Junior Kiwis, starting in the middle both times and he could join that main crew at some stage this season.
The Cowboys now have a #KiwiNRL break down of two from Waikato (Martin, Pere), Kahu's from Wellington and Taumalolo from Auckland. That's a lovely North Island mix, for the North Island Cowboys.
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Peace and love 27.