The Toronto Arrows GM Mark Winokur announced his 2nd group of signings for the 2020 season this past Thursday. The Arrows have added 9 players to the 12 they announced earlier this month. Of the 9 signings, 6 are returning players with 3 new additions.
The Arrows have re-signed the following players:
Cole Keith- prop
Mike Smith- prop
Paul Ciulini- lock
Josh Van Horne- lock
Tom Van Horne- lock
Spencer Jones- centre
The new additions to the quiver are:
Richie Asiata- prop
Tayler Adams- scrumhalf/flyhalf/fullback
Will Kelly- flyhalf
Throughout the 2019 MLR season, the Toronto Arrows were perhaps the deepest team in the league. The first group of signings further added to that depth with Tomas del la Vega and Manuel Diana joining an already impressive back row. One of the Arrows’ weaker positions of depth last season was at flyhalf. Sam Malcolm was phenomenal all season and played basically the entire year. Although there was an instance where he had to leave a game, Malcolm was healthy throughout the entire campaign. However, in those brief moments where Malcolm was not on the pitch, the Arrows did not quite look the same. For the bulk of the season, Shawn Windsor was the only other player on the squad that could really play flyhalf (until Patrick Parfrey joined late in the season). With the signing of Tayler Adams and Will Kelly, Winokur has added 2 quality flyhalf options and has addressed this issue.
Kelly will already be familiar to a lot of Arrows fans as he featured heavily in their 2018 exhibition season before heading overseas. Kelly returned from his stint with the Dragons in Pro14 early and began training with the Arrows last season, but never featured in a game. A product of the Brantford Harlequins, Kelly has 1 cap for Canada.
Tayler Adams adds to the Arrows kiwi contingent. Adams is a former Junior All Black and has 2 appearances for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby. Following a stint in Australia, Adams returned to New Zealand to play with the Southland Stags (Morgan Mitchell’s team) in the Mitre 10 Cup. Unfortunately, an ankle injury suffered in the preseason derailed his 2018 campaign. The injury also prevented him from joining the Rebels later that year. Adams bounced back in 2019 with a strong season for Eastwood in the Shute Shield where he had 4 tries, 51 conversions, and 14 penalties.
The third new signing is prop Richie Asiata. Asiata has also been around a Super Rugby environment as he has trained with the Queensland Reds (but has never been caped). Prior to joining the Arrows, Asiata has played for the U20 Wallabies and Queensland Country. Once again, Asiata will be adding plenty of depth to the Arrows. The loosehead prop will boost the skill level on that side of the scrum. Rob Brouwer was clearly the man to wear the number 1 jersey all of last season. His reserve player seemed to fluctuate throughout the season before Pat Lynott really settled into the role toward the end of the year. However, Asiata is the first loosehead prop signing to be announced by the Arrows so I would expect plenty more shortly.
Mike Smith and Josh Van Horne did not make many appearances for the Arrows last season. However, they add plenty of depth to the pack that was the strength of the team last year. Cole Keith, Paul Ciulini, Tom Van Horne, and Spencer Jones were all key pieces to the Arrows squad and regularly featured in the matchday 23. Keith and Van Horne helped give the Arrows an incredibly strong reserves bench and were frequently counted on to close out games throughout the Arrows’ playoff push. Ciulini combined with Mike Sheppard to in the Arrows engine room and was an absolute force all season. His great play last year earned him a chance to compete for a spot on Canada’s World Cup Squad. Jones will be joining Guiseppe du Toit (who re-signed in the first group) as Winokur locked up his centre combination for the 2020 season.
The Arrows squad is now up to 21 names for 2020. There is still plenty of names to be added to the squad. The biggest names that have not been re-signed yet include captain Dan Moor, Mike Sheppard, Morgan Mitchell, Sam Malcolm, and Jamie Mackenzie.