Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Crusaders look for No 2 flanker

Matt Todd in the tackle of Highlander's Chris King. Photo / NZPA
Matt Todd in the tackle of Highlander's Chris King. Photo / NZPA

Matt Todd will be the Crusaders' top-ranked openside flanker next season, but the franchise has yet to settle on a suitable back-up.

Richie McCaw's recently announced sabbatical, and the shift by former New Zealand Under-20 flanker Brendon O'Connor to the Blues, leaves the Crusaders a little light at No7, traditionally a position of strength for the red and blacks.

Canterbury captain George Whitelock has played there but is now considered a blindside flanker. The Crusaders have been looking at Counties loose forward Jimmy Tupou - he was recently shown around the Rugby Park training facilities by coach Todd Blackadder - but he is considered more of a blindside flanker/lock.

It is understood that Blackadder and his fellow coaches will meet today to discuss their options.

One player who could come in for scrutiny is Scott Waldrom, who played for the Crusaders in 2004 and endured a miserable season at the Chiefs when battling unsuccessfully for game time against Sam Cane and Tanerau Latimer.

Waldrom, 32, has not yet been picked up by a Super rugby franchise, but is having a standout season for Taranaki in the ITM Cup, including scoring an important try when repelling the Ranfurly Shield challenge of Canterbury last weekend.

"My career is a bit up in the air at the moment, so I've just got to focus on playing well for Taranaki because I don't think my career is at a point when it needs to finish," he told a newspaper recently.

"This is the first time I've come into the competition without an injury. The body has had nine months of pre-season training with the Chiefs, so I'm raring to go."


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