Waikato have confirmed four new signings for the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season. New to the province will be the experienced halves of Fletcher Smith and Jack Stratton plus returning players Kylem O’Donnell and Toby Smith.
Fletcher Smith joins Waikato after playing 26 games for Otago since he debuted the province in 2015. The 22 year old favoured position is first five eight and is an accurate goal kicker, in 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Smith played eleven games for Otago scoring a total of 116 points (5 tries, 26 conversions, 13 penalties). He finished the season with an 83% success rate, converting 13 penalties from 13 attempts and only missing 8 conversions from 34 attempts.
Jack Stratton (23) is one of two new halfbacks. Stratton has played 23 games for Canterbury scoring 35 points in the form of seven tries for the province. He was called into the Crusaders wider training group last season as injury cover, this helped him to secure a contract with them again in 2018. Stratton also featured for the Provincial Barbarians team that took on the British and Irish Lions last year.
Halfback Kylem O’Donnell returns to Waikato for the first time since 2013 and has a chance to add to his eight caps for the province. The 28 year old returns to Waikato for the first time since moving to Taranaki in pursuit of regular game time at the end of the 2013 season. Since 2014, O’Donnell has played a total of 21 games for Taranaki.
Finally experienced prop Toby Smith (29) will have a chance to add to his 50 Waikato caps he totalled between the 2008-13 provincial seasons, scoring 8 tries and a total of 40 points. Smith returns to New Zealand after leaving in 2013 after playing 37 matches for the Chiefs, he then went on to play 50 games for the Melbourne Rebels before being selected for the Wallabies in the 2015 season where he played a total 5 games for the Australia.
Waikato Rugby Union CEO Blair Foote said, “We are pleased to announce the four new players that will join us for the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign. It will be exciting to see the experience and composure these players will bring to the halves position. Then you have a player like Toby Smith, who has played well over 100 first class matches only adds experience to the front row.”