There may be no Richie McCaw or Dan Carter but the Crusaders will fancy their chances of making it back to the Super Rugby playoffs in 2016 with the 39-man squad they have picked.

Eleven players join the squad for the first time in 2016, and a further four players have been promoted from the 2015 Wider Training Group.

Prop Michael Alaalatoa and loose forwards Pete Samu and Tim Boys will bolster the forwards in 2016. They each join the squad off the back of impressive ITM Cup campaigns, Alaalatoa for Manawatu, Samu for Tasman and Boys for Southland.

"These are three players who will add some significant strength to our squad. They have more than proven themselves at provincial level and we believe that they are ready to make the step up to Super Rugby," head coach Todd Blackadder said.


Also stepping up in the forwards are prop Alex Hodgman, who has been promoted from the 2015 Wider Training Group, and lock Mitchell Dunshea, who has been named in the 2016 Wider Training Group after having an outstanding debut season for Canterbury.

The Crusaders will have a new look backline in 2016, with seven new backs added to the group. The first five spot will be contested by Richie Mo'unga, who has been promoted from the 2015 Wider Training Group, Fijian international Ben Volavola who has moved from the Waratahs, and Marty McKenzie who shifts from the Chiefs.

"We have been watching these men closely over the Rugby World Cup and ITM Cup campaigns and we are excited with the potential we see in all of them. There is a real opportunity for these guys to step up and fill some very big boots and we are confident that they will grasp that opportunity in 2016," Blackadder said.

Tasman midfielder David Havili is another player who has earned the call-up to the full squad from last season's Wider Training Group, while halfback Leon Fukofuka will move down from Auckland to take a spot in the Wider Training Group.

There are a few new faces in the outside backs. Sione Fifita joins the Crusaders from the Counties Manukau Steelers; NZ Under 20s player Mitchell Hunt moves down from Auckland via Nelson, and Maori All Black Sean Wainui makes the shift from Taranaki.

"We have put a real focus on building more strength and power in our backline for 2016 and that's where these signings have come from. We are hugely excited about the potential that we see in these players and about the overall profile of next year's squad with the addition of these talented young backs," Blackadder said.

Four players are currently listed as medical exemptions because they have long-term injuries; they are Tim Perry, Jed Brown, Jack Goodhue and Israel Dagg. They are listed in the Wider Training Group and their contract place is taken by another player to meet the required squad of 32. All Wider Training Group players can be selected as full squad members.

"Having these long-term injuries has made the contracting process a little more complicated this year, but it has also opened up fantastic opportunities for some other players. The four players who are currently injured are all incredibly valuable to us and we know that they will make a big impact when they return to fitness.

"In addition, we have a number of players who will join the Crusaders from the beginning of our pre-season training and these players will become available to us if any further injuries rule players out. They are Reed Prinsep, Oliver Jager, George Bridge, Jack Stratton and Hamish Dalzell. This is a great group of men who we are lucky to have with the group, and who we know will take their opportunities if they get them," Blackadder said.

"We believe that we have got the mix right, with some experienced, reliable and strong players up front, plus some big, powerful and fast players in the backline. I can't wait to work with this group and create some exciting rugby in 2016."

Outside backs:

Nemani Nadolo (Fiji)
Jone Macilai (Northland)
Sione Fifita (Counties Manukau)
Johnny McNicholl (Canterbury)
Sean Wainui (Taranaki)
Mitchell Hunt (Tasman)
Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay)


David Havili (Tasman)
Kieron Fonotia (Tasman)
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury)
Robbie Fruean (Hawke's Bay)
Jack Goodhue (Canterbury)

First fives:

Ben Volavola (Fiji)
Richie Mo'unga (Canterbury)
Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)


Andy Ellis (Japan)
Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury)
Leon Fukofuka (Auckland)
Loose forwards:
Pete Samu (Tasman)
Jordan Taufua (Counties Manukau)
Tim Boys (Southland)
Matt Todd (Canterbury)
Jed Brown (Canterbury)
Kieran Read (Canterbury)


Luke Romano (Canterbury)
Sam Whitelock (Canterbury)
Jimmy Tupou (Counties Manukau)
Scott Barrett (Canterbury)
Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury)


Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury)
Joe Moody (Canterbury)
Alex Hodgman (Canterbury)
Michael Alaalatoa (Manawatu)
Owen Franks (Canterbury)
Tim Perry (Tasman)


Ben Funnell (Canterbury)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury)
Ged Robinson (Canterbury)