Harbour duo commit to Blues

Harbour duo commit to Blues

Early next season Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Matt Duffie are in line to earn their 50th cap for the Blues, after both deciding to extend their stay at the club next season

Since joining the club in 2016 Gerard and Matt have become key contributors for the club. Cowley-Tuioti played in all-but two games in 2018 and in 2019, and has become a seniormember of the forward pack. He missed only one game in 2019, either starting or adding energy off the bench, like his driving try to earn an important bonus point in the win over the Chiefs. Duffie, the dual New Zealand international, returned to Auckland in 2016 and has since amassed 42 caps for the Blues despite a late start from a serious hamstring injury in 2019

Both have proved to be standout performers for the North Harbour side in the Mitre 10 Cup, playing key roles in winning North Harbour promotion to the Mitre 10 Cup premiership and challenging for finals each year since.

Staying in NZ was a big call for 26-year-old Cowley-Tuioti who had initially looked to take up an option to play in France. Cowley-Tuioti was initially called into the Blues in 2015 as training cover and earned himself a fulltime place in 2016. “Gerard is a player that most teams would love to have,” said Tony Hanks, general manager high performance. “He might be a quiet guy around the club, but he is an outstanding contributor. He does the core roles at set-play well and brings physicality in his general play around the field.

“We know he was targeted by European clubs, and he deserves the opportunity, but we are delighted he has decided to remain with us for a couple more years. He is one of those players that our coaches can rely on to do his job week-in, week-out.”

Duffie, a former Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Kiwis winger has impressed on the right wing and at fullback for the Blues. In 2017, Duffie made a habit of crossing the try line regularly for the Blues and North Harbour, earning himself a spot on the All Blacks end of year tour. Matt played in two games that tour, against the Barbarians at Twickenham, and a French XV.

Matt excelled at a number of sports while a student at St Kentigern College, playing fullback for the First XV before moving to the Melbourne Storm in 2009, helping the U20 team win the Premiership.

“Matt has made a successful transition back to rugby which is not easy. Matt is a significant contributor in the club and his leadership and professionalism are highly respected by players and staff. Matt has shown the highest levels of resilience in coming back from a number of serious injuries in his career to perform at the highest levels and we look forward to watching Matt get back to his very best across the Mitre 10 Cup with North Harbour”