The Crusaders have further bolstered their stacked squad by signing former All Blacks halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi on a one-year deal.
Tahuriorangi made the last of his three test appearences in 2018 and has since struggled for game-time at the Chiefs behind All Blacks halfback Brad Weber, who this week re-signed through to the 2023 World Cup.
With highly-talented Waikato prospect Xavier Roe knocking on the door, the Chiefs opted to release Tahuriorangi which paved the way for the Crusaders to pick him up for 2022.
Tahuriorangi started his professional career with Taranaki and the Hurricanes. He now plays for Bay of Plenty, and will join established halfbacks Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond at the Crusaders next season.
Hall has one season left on his Crusaders contract, while Drummond is signed to 2023.
The Crusaders have released their third halfback, Ere Enari. The Herald understands Enari, who switched from Canterbury to Hawke's Bay this season, has signed with Moana Pasifika in search of more game time.
The Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders are understood to have now filled their three halfback spots.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson worked with Tahuriorangi in his championship-winning New Zealand under-20s team in 2015, and is confident he can help rekindle the 26-year-old's best form.
"When he's on top of his game we know he's All Blacks level," Robertson told the Herald. "He's experienced, he's grateful for this opportunity. The last couple of years have been tough for him with game time. He realises this is another chance to come to a new environment and refresh. We back ourselves to get the best out of our people and he knows that.
"He could be a good long term option for us if he plays well.
"The strength of our halfback position is the competitiveness; their ability to push each other. There's a couple of 100 game halfbacks in there plus someone who has played at the highest level. You need that with your game drivers. Te Toiroa brings a point of difference with his running game so he can add something off the bench and he's experienced enough to start."
Tahuriorangi is keen to embrace his third Super Rugby franchise.
"I'm really grateful for the opportunity to join a club that has such an awesome track record in Super Rugby, and it's exciting to have the chance to contribute to a team like the Crusaders," Tahuriorangi said.
"I worked with Razor a few years back as part of the New Zealand under-20s programme, so I'm looking forward to reconnecting with him next season and embracing a fresh challenge in my rugby career."
After claiming this year's Super Rugby Aotearoa title, their fifth in succession under Robertson, but failing to make the transtasman final won by the Blues, the Crusaders have five spots to fill on their largely settled 2022 roster.
Finalising those draft spots is difficult for all New Zealand franchises with the NPC in limbo during the national lockdown.
"We're now waiting on decisions from the powers that be so we can play some more footy," Robertson said. "If the competition pushes towards the end of the year then we'll wait but if it doesn't get going we'll have to make a call on the information we've got."