Rugby: Nine new faces for Crusaders

By Nick Tolerton of the Star

The Crusaders have nine new faces in their squad for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign. Photo / Getty Images.
The Crusaders have nine new faces in their squad for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign. Photo / Getty Images.

The Crusaders have nine new faces in their squad for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign - including six players from the Canterbury team which won a record fifth consecutive NPC title on Saturday.

Forwards Dominic Bird, Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and back Johnny McNicholl, all in the Crusaders wider training group this year, have been rewarded for their contribution to the ITM Cup campaign with promotion.

Prop Nepo Laulala - a younger brother of former All Black Casey Laulala - and loose forward Jordan Taufua, who both also played for Canterbury this season, were also named in the squad today by coach Todd Blackadder.

Two Tasman players, loose forward Shane Christie and Samoa World Cup halfback Jeremy Su'a, have also been called up.

The ninth newcomer and only recruit from outside the Crusaders catchment is Counties loose forward Jimmy Tupou.

Blackadder said the Crusaders carried only two halfbacks last year and wanted Su'a to put pressure of Andy Ellis and Willi Heinz.

Su'a was a good passer, was strong and physical, and would bring something different, he said.

The coach will be in no doubt about the toughness that tighthead prop Laulala will bring to the squad.

The second-youngest of eight siblings of whom Casey (now with Munster) is the oldest, he fractured his lower back in the ITM Cup but started against Taranaki in spite of the injury.

His recovery will take another two to three months.

Blackadder said Laulala had played two seasons for Canterbury and proved himself to be a promising tighthead, and Taufua had been outstanding for Tasman on loan and then made a real impact when he joined Canterbury for the semifinal and final.

Counties player Tupou was a physical and talented loose forward who would be a real asset, he said.

He would bring something different with a style that sat somewhere between Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, and could play lock as well as No 6 or 8.

Skipper Richie McCaw will be on sabbatical for much of the campaign and would not be available until after the June tests. When he returned was "pretty unconditional", said Blackadder.

First- and second-year players in the squad will assemble for training on December 10, and the full squad will be back on January 28.

Crusaders 2013 squad:

Forwards: Dominic Bird, Shane Christie, Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Nepo Laulala, Richie McCaw, Joe Moody, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.

Backs: Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Robbie Fruean, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Tom Marshall, Johnny McNicholl, Jeremy Su'a, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock.

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