McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City prop Sam Talakai today became the ninth member of Queensland’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship squads to sign to the St.George Queensland Reds Elite Development Squad.
Talakai played six games for Brisbane City in the NRC after making the move north from Shute Shield club Sydney University.
The 23-year-old came to Brisbane City with some pedigree, after he was capped for the Waratahs against the British & Irish Lions in 2013 – a team which featured his first cousin, English prop Mako Vunipola.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said he was looking forward to seeing Talakai continue to develop in the lead up to the 2015 season.
“I have been following Sam’s Rugby career since 2010. Genuine tighthead props are a rare commodity and ones with some physical maturity are even tougher to find,” Graham said.
“Nick Stiles made contact with him to join Brisbane City for the NRC and on the back of his performances he has earned an opportunity. Credit to him for relocating and putting himself in a foreign environment to make the most of it.
“Like all the props he has a big pre-season ahead of him. He’ll benefit greatly from being part of a full-time program and the ability to compete with the other contracted players.”
Talakai joins six of his Brisbane City teammates in the recently formed Elite Development Squad, along with two Bond University Queensland Country players and seven Queensland high school students.
Talakai’s signing follows on from last week’s announcement that the Reds had signed Queensland Country’s teenage centre Campbell Magnay to a three-year contract, bringing the total number of Queensland NRC players offered some level of contract with the Reds to 10.
The Reds Elite Development squad is an initiative by Queensland Rugby designed to ensure the Reds retain the best talent the state has to offer. Those in the squad, which will train mostly with the Reds Under 20s and Wider Training Squad, are expected to be the next crop of Reds stars.
Other players to sign to the Reds Elite Development Squad include Brisbane City’s starting props in the NRC grand final, Sef Faagase and Pettowa Paraka, Australian Under 20s flyhalf Jake McIntyre and Queensland Country centre Sam Johnson, who made his Super Rugby debut earlier this year.