Six new signings for Black and Whites

Group 20 rugby league

THE Black and Whites have made their first big move in the off-season player market since securing David Milne as captain-coach, unveiling a raft of new signings for next year.

The group of six new players is headed by former Griffith star Jericho Tanuvasa, who was one of the club's best performers in the 2011 Group 20 season.

A strong, quick utility forward, Tanuvasa went back to New Zealand for family reasons but has returned � and brought with him three of his countrymen.

Two of them � hard-running props David Uasula Jr and Clinton Lilo � are former teammates at his Kiwi club Manurewa Marlins, while the other, centre Ratu Samuela, is a Fiji and NZ Bati representative.

The club has also secured the services of the majority of last season's first-grade squad, locking in the likes of talented trio Gospel Toru, Michael Uin and Leo Seukeni.

Black and Whites president Craig O'Keeffe told The Area News it is now up to former NRL star Milne to mould his new squad into a competitive Group 20 outfit.

"I think we've got it pretty well covered � we've got a lot of backs, a lot of forwards," he said.

"We don't really have any big gaps left.

"Thanks to Craig Hannon and the culture he created and promoted we have also been able to keep most of the blokes from last year as well.

"We've spoken to a lot of blokes but I think they've just been using us against the other clubs, but we're happy with what we've got.

"Now it's up to Milney to work with these boys and get the best out of them and turn them into a first-grade side."

O'Keeffe said many Black and Whites fans will remember Tanuvasa - not just for his on-field exploits, but also his friendly and easygoing manner off it.

"The best part about him is he's a good bloke," he said.

"He was our best player that year but he was also very popular at the club and in the town.

"I can see no reason why he wouldn't fit straight back into life in Griffith again and at the Black and Whites."

Mindful of last season's disaster - when Griffith imported a large contingent of overseas players that failed to settle and left then-coach Craig Hannon with a bare-bones squad - O'Keeffe said he was confident the new blood would have no such problems thanks to a new culture around the club.

Tanuvasa and Uasila Jr come with arguably the strongest credentials of the new quartet, having played for the New Zealand Warriors reserve-grade team Auckland Vulcans.

The Black and Whites have also announced two further signings in utility back Todd Granger and towering prop Mick Smith.

Granger was with Yenda last year but O'Keeffe said he came across to Griffith for the greater first-grade opportunities on offer under Milne.

"That's one of the great things about having a guy like Milney - he can coach them, he can run outside them, he can mentor them," the president said.

Smith is a "huge" front-rower who played for Quakers Hill in the Penrith Junior League last season and has come to Griffith for work reasons.

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