Rugby: Blues sign Crusaders forward pair

Jimmy Tupou battles Josh Bekhuis in a lineout earlier in the season. Photo / Getty
Jimmy Tupou battles Josh Bekhuis in a lineout earlier in the season. Photo / Getty

The Blues have signed Crusaders forwards Jimmy Tupou and Alex Hodgman on two-year deals.

The pair will arrive in Auckland for the 2017 season, with Tupou, who has played under Blues coach Tana Umaga at Counties, covering lock and Hodgman, a former Blues under-18 player, prop.

Tupou, 23, has earned 25 Super Rugby caps for the Crusaders since 2013 and played 39 times for Counties Manukau. He has been a solid performer for Todd Blackadder, but the presence of All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, plus the fast rising Scott Barrett, have limited his opportunities.

Hodgman, 22, is up against All Blacks Joe Moody and Wyatt Crockett for a starting place at loosehead prop at the Crusaders.

Coach Umaga said he was delighted to welcome Tupou and Hodgman back north.

"Jimmy is an excellent athlete who is both skilled and physical. With the loss of Josh Bekhuis overseas, there's an opportunity for Jimmy to battle for a starting spot with our other current locks," Umaga said.

"Alex played in the Blues Under-18 squad with the likes of Patrick Tuipulotu and Joe Edwards and is a young man with a bright future who has the opportunity to learn the game from the likes of Charlie Faumuina and Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

"It is good to be able to offer opportunities for players to return to the region."

Umaga said the Blues' squad had an average age of 24 with about 80 per cent of the current squad from within the Blues region.

- NZ Herald

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