Munster Sign Tokula and Connacht Loan Borlase

NZ vs Guyana

Save Tukola in action for the NZ Sevens team. (c) AtTheSevens.com

Munster have announced the signing of Waikato’s outside centre/wing Save Tokula for the remainder of the season. The Fijian-born outside back was a member of the Chiefs 2011 Super Rugby Squad, while he has also represented the New Zealand Sevens team on a number of occasions. The 26-year-old weighs in at around 96kg and stands 6’1″ tall. As his strong sevens background suggests, Tokula is an elusive, explosive player. He will arrive in the province over the coming weekend.

Munster coach Tony McGahan clearly felt he was short of options in midfield after Will Chambers’ return to Australia last month. Tom Gleeson and Troy Smith are still out injured so McGahan has made this short-term move to cover any other injuries. Youngsters Danny Barnes and Scott Deasy will hope that Tokula’s impact doesn’t deny them any valuable playing time. Tokula is quite an unknown entity in these parts (only clip I could find), so for that reason the signing is somewhat exciting. Still how much do these short-term signings really add to Munster?

Borlase moves on loan to Connacht. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

Meanwhile, Munster tighthead prop Peter Borlase has moved to Connacht on loan for the rest of the season. The New Zealander has yet to make an appearance for Munster this season due to his struggle with a back injury. The ex-Canterbury and Crusaders man will provide cover for the injured Connacht props Dylan Rogers and Rodney Ah You.

Since joining in 2010, Borlase has only made 4 starts for Munster, so it will be interesting to see how he fares if given a chance with the western province. Borlase is only 26, and will become qualified to play for Ireland in 2013, so his progress at Connacht should be watched closely. After overcoming his lengthy injury, and playing a number of games with Munster A recently, Borlase will surely be desperate to prove himself at a higher level.

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What’s your opinion on these two moves? Did Munster really need to bring in another back? Do you think it shows a lack of faith in the younger players’ ability to step up? Or would you like to see a few more short-term signings for Munster?

What do you make of the Borlase move? Do you think he has the ability to go on and play for Ireland when he is qualified? Comment below with your opinions…

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Photos courtesy:  Ivan O’Riordan, AtTheSevens.com

6 responses to “Munster Sign Tokula and Connacht Loan Borlase

  1. The transfer of Sonny-Bill Williams to the Chiefs meant Save Tokula was on the outer but he’s a good player.

    Tokula can operate in short confines. He’s strong & elusive, & he can tackle so he should go OK over there.

    It’s a shame that Borlase has had injuries. He was just starting to gain some momentum when he left NZ. He really needs to be playing regularly to develop. NZ is not really a hotbed of propping activity becoz of the style over here. So hopefully he can make a re-start & put a dozen games together. Jury’s out as to whether he’s got the ability to play at international level but he’s in the right place to find out – good luck to him!

  2. Yeah looking at the Chiefs squad Sonny-Bill is the standout player. Will Richie Kahui play in the centre alongside him this season?

    Tokula sounds like he could be a good signing from what you say. The word is that he is purely meant as back-up, but from what you say, we could see him play a role.

    Borlase has been unlucky with injury problems so we still haven’t actually seen much of him. He hasn’t even played for Munster this season and only had a handful of appearances last season. Hopefully he gets a chance for regular games at Connacht so we can see what he’s made of!

    You might be interested in this article I wrote on the lack of a sevens team here in Ireland. What do you make of the situation? How much is Ireland missing out on by not having a sevens team? Seems to me that it is a great way to develop players as well as an unbelievably entertaining game!

  3. Since the days of Tipoki and Mafi, the Munster midfield has struggled to become a solid unit. Mafi seems to need to gel with someone and maybe Tokula is the man for the rest of the season. We have laid ourselves down as both a team in transition but also a team of exetreme resolve this year and top of Europe after the pool stages. I’m delighted and excited about this short term signing. Especially for whats to come in the Heinken cup.

    With regard to the home grown players I feel and have always felt that new blood from abroad can only make them better as they learn different aproaches and see a freshness in play. Tunnel vision can take over in any sport and as such there are many routes to the top. It will be a great learning experience for the new player and the home grown youth we have coming through. Welcome Tokula and hopefully you’ll buy into the ethos and add your stamp to our style.

    With regard to Borlase I cannot comment on his ability because we have seen so little of him, barr the fact that scrummaging is not his strong point at the moment however that could have alot to do with back injury etc so i’ll reserve judgement. It’s a good move for him for game time and hopefully good for Connaught should he fulfill any potential.

    • Totally agree that we haven’t had a strong midfield combination since the Mafi/Tipoki days. Looks like Downey/Laulala could be a good combination depending on how they settle in.

      It’s a really good point that overseas players can aid the younger players improvement with their different approaches and paying styles. I totally welcome him to Munster, and will always support any player wearing the Munster jersey. I have always felt that actually playing matches is the best form of development for young players though. Conor Murray, for example, improved rapidly because he was given the exposure on the pitch. There’s every chance that training with Tokula will improve the likes of Barnes, but I would rather see them out on the pitch.

      Borlas is an interesting case. All the word seems to be that he struggles at scrum-time. We have to give him a chance to prove himself and as you said, it’s seems like a good move for all concerned. Hopefully he can step up and prove that he’s capable of playing for Munster.

  4. I think Tokula arriving could be the difference of claiming silverware or not this year! Most of Munster’s backs, in my opinion, are only suitable as wingers, (i.e. gleeson or barnes). In the modern game you need at least one centre who is a huge ball of wrecking ball muscle! Mafi and earls are both a bit two small and would both benifit from playing off of a big hard straight line running player, like De Villier when he was with Munster. Its a pity he left as he was really playing well at the end of the season that year. Since then Munster have been juggling around with backs but always seemed short a piece.
    Plus, an extra centre would free up earls to play on the wing, which is definately a good thing.
    Finally, i have no issue with foreign players coming in, its brings new ideas and attitudes and chosen correctly, can really help the younger players develop into great players. I mean look at all the class wingers we have…. a lot of that is due to being mentored by Howlett in my opinion!

    • Yeah I agree that Munster have missed a big, direct ball-carrying centre. It would suit their style of play to have someone like that in midfield. I don’t know much about Tokula to be honest, so not sure if he’s that type of player. He’s listed as a centre/winger so I’d be surprised if he’s the direct midfield wrecking ball we’re looking for. Downey could possibly be that guy next season if he can step up from Premiership to HC level. I agree with you that having Earls on the wing can only be a good thing.

      Again, a good point on the mentoring side that foreign players can bring. However, Howlett is the all-time All Blacks leading try-scorer and a rugby legend. BJ Botha is a World Cup winner. Tokula has only started a couple of Super Rugby games. I hope he proves to be a brilliant signing and helps Munster win something this season, but I’m just always a bit wary of these short-term signings denying younger players the chance to actually play!

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