Crusaders Knights team named to play Hurricanes Development side

The Crusaders Knights will travel north this weekend, and Head Coach Joe Maddock has named his side to take on the Hurricanes Development team at Courtesy Domain in Levin on Saturday.

Six players in the starting fifteen are current members of the BNZ Crusaders squad. In the forwards, Andrew Makalio, Oliver Jager, Quinten Strange and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will start, while Leon Fukofuka will start at halfback and Sean Wainui slots in at centre.

This weekend’s match will be the final fixture for the Crusaders Knights, who drew with the Highlanders Development side 34-all on 25 February, and went on to defeat the Bravehearts 21-12 on 4 March.

Kick off is scheduled for 1pm on Saturday 25 March at Courtesy Domain in Levin.

Crusaders Knights team to play Hurricanes Development team:

      1. Sean Paranihi
      2. Andrew Makalio
      3. Oliver Jager
      4. Jonno Osbourne
      5. Quinten Strange
      6. Sam Godwin
      7. Tom Christie
      8. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
      9. Leon Fukofuka
      10. Brett Cameron
      11. Josh McKay
      12. Inga Finau
      13. Sean Wainui
      14. Caleb Makene
      15. Braydon Ennor
      16. Tom Crozier
      17. Harry Allen
      18. Jack Straker
      19. Jack Powell
      20. Dylan Nel
      21. Ere Enari
      22. Will Jordan
      23. Poasa Waqanibau

Matt Todd re-signs with BNZ Crusaders and NZ Rugby

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the BNZ Crusaders have secured the services of loose forward Matt Todd for another year, re-signing him to the end of the 2018 season.

28-year-old Todd has been a consistent performer for the BNZ Crusaders and All Blacks since making his Super Rugby debut in 2011 and Test debut in 2013. He has played eight Tests to date and is only a few games off reaching his 100th cap for the Crusaders, but has proven over the last couple of years that he is only getting better and better with age and experience.

Todd acknowledged that there had been interest from overseas clubs but said the decision to stay and play his rugby in New Zealand and Christchurch for 2018 was relatively straightforward in the end.

“I was born and raised here in Christchurch, and now I am bringing up my own young family here. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to live here and play for the teams I love, so it was a pretty easy decision to re-sign with NZ Rugby and the BNZ Crusaders for 2018.”

Todd returns from a recent calf strain to play the Force in the Investec Super Rugby competition this weekend. It will be his 97th game for the BNZ Crusaders.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said Todd’s leadership and superb skills were highly valued in the team.

“Matt Todd has a major influence on every game he is involved in. We always know that we can count on him to give 100 percent and to perform at the highest level – he is a coach’s dream. He is an important leader in our group, his skills at the breakdown are superb and the best thing about Matt is that he is continually seeking to improve himself so just gets better every year. We know that there is plenty of upside in Matt yet, so we are thrilled to have signed him for another season,” Roberston said.

Todd was first selected for the All Blacks in 2013, and shone for the national team last year during the Investec Rugby Championship, including a standout performance in the final Bledisloe Test in Auckland.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Toddy’ epitomises everything you want in a team man. He puts the team first, works incredibly hard at his game, appreciates and deserves every chance he gets and plays outstandingly well when he gets those opportunities. We congratulate him on his decision to stay.”

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Force

The BNZ Crusaders play at home again this Friday night, this time taking on the Force from Western Australia. Head Coach Scott Robertson has made seven changes and a positional change to the starting fifteen that beat the Blues last Friday night.

Prop Wyatt Crockett and lock Luke Romano will make their first starts of the season, having made a huge impact off the bench in the previous games. Tim Perry and Michael Alaalatoa will provide prop cover this week, and Mitchell Dunshea is primed for his BNZ Crusaders debut as lock/loose forward cover.

Scott Barrett shifts from lock to loose forward, filling the number 6 jersey. Matt Todd returns from his calf strain to play at 7, and Jordan Taufua shifts to number 8.

The halfbacks have rotated so that Mitchell Drummond gets the start this week and Bryn Hall takes a spot in the reserves.

Tim Bateman steps in at centre, while Digby Ioane returns from a finger injury to play on the wing. Marty McKenzie and Manasa Mataele provide backs cover this week.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said he is expecting a tough challenge from the Force on Friday night: "They are fresh from a bye, which generally gives a team a bit of an edge, and our games against the Force have traditionally been really tight. We know we will need to be on form on Friday night but we are up for the challenge. The crowd support at our last home game was phenomenal and really gave the team a lift, so we can't wait to get out in front of our supporters again this Friday."

Kick off is at 7:35pm Friday night, at Christchurch's AMI Stadium. Tickets are available through ticketdirect.co.nz or by downloading the Ticket Direct app.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Force:

      1. Wyatt Crockett
      2. Codie Taylor
      3. Owen Franks
      4. Luke Romano
      5. Sam Whitelock (C)
      6. Scott Barrett
      7. Matt Todd (VC)
      8. Jordan Taufua
      9. Mitchell Drummond
      10. Mitchell Hunt
      11. George Bridge
      12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
      13. Tim Bateman
      14. Digby Ioane
      15. David Havili

RESERVES

      16. Ben Funnell
      17. Tim Perry
      18. Michael Alaalatoa
      19. Mitchell Dunshea
      20. Pete Samu
      21. Bryn Hall
      22. Marty McKenzie
      23. Manasa Mataele

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Blues

The BNZ Crusaders will host the Blues at AMI Stadium this Friday night, and Head Coach Scott Robertson has made seven changes to the starting side that beat the Reds last weekend.

Owen Franks returns to the 3 jersey, while Jordan Taufua and Jed Brown join Whetu Douglas in the loose forward trio.

Bryn Hall will start at halfback this week against his former team, with Mitchell Drummond on the bench.

Manasa Mataele will make his Super Rugby debut, replacing his injured uncle Seta Tamanivalu at 14. George Bridge takes the other wing, with Digby Ioane also ruled out after injuring a finger. David Havili steps into fullback, with Israel Dagg out of contention after injuring his knee.

Wyatt Crockett and returns to play this week off the bench, providing prop cover alongside Michael Alaalatoa. Pete Samu provides loose forward cover, and Sean Wainui will cover the backs.

New Zealand teams are celebrating that rugby is a game for everyone in this round, and players will be wearing different coloured laces to illustrate the point. BNZ Crusaders players are sharing their multi-coloured laces with girls from the West Melton, West Rolleston, Broadfield and Clearview Under 10s teams, who will play the curtain raisers on Friday night. They will also take laces to various schools around Christchurch on Thursday afternoon, and share some messages with the students about what the 'Rugby for Everyone' round represents.

Kick off is at 7:35pm Friday night, at Christchurch's AMI Stadium. Tickets are available through ticketdirect.co.nz or by downloading the Ticket Direct app.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Blues:

      1. Joe Moody
      2. Codie Taylor
      3. Owen Franks
      4. Scott Barrett
      5. Sam Whitelock (C)
      6. Jordan Taufua
      7. Jed Brown
      8. Whetu Douglas
      9. Bryn Hall
      10. Mitchell Hunt
      11. George Bridge
      12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
      13. Jack Goodhue
      14. Manasa Mataele
      15. David Havili

RESERVES

      16. Ben Funnell
      17. Wyatt Crockett
      18. Michael Alaalatoa
      19. Luke Romano
      20. Pete Samu
      21. Mitchell Drummond
      22. Marty McKenzie
      23. Sean Wainui

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Reds

The BNZ Crusaders cross the ditch this week to take on the Reds in Brisbane, with three players set to make their BNZ Crusaders debut on Saturday night.

Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will earn his first Crusaders cap at number 7, after Matt Todd strained a calf muscle in training. The other change in the loose forwards is at 6, with Pete Samu starting this week and Jordan Taufua providing cover off the bench.

Prop Oli Jager is also set to make his debut if he comes on for Mike Alaalatoa, who shifts from the reserves to the starting tighthead position this week. Joe Moody starts again at loosehead prop, with Tim Perry coming onto the bench as cover.

Digby Ioane will debut in against his former team when he takes the left wing on Saturday night. Seta Tamanivalu moves to the other wing, and Israel Dagg moves back into the fullback role.

The BNZ Crusaders take on the Reds at Suncorp Stadium at 9:45pm New Zealand time (6:45pm Brisbane time) on Saturday night.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Reds:

      1. Joe Moody
      2. Codie Taylor
      3. Michael Alaalatoa
      4. Scott Barrett
      5. Sam Whitelock (C)
      6. Pete Samu
      7. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
      8. Whetu Douglas
      9. Mitchell Drummond
      10. Mitchell Hunt
      11. Digby Ioane
      12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
      13. Jack Goodhue
      14. Seta Tamanivalu
      15. Israel Dagg

RESERVES

      16. Ben Funnell
      17. Tim Perry
      18. Oliver Jager
      19. Luke Romano
      20. Jordan Taufua
      21. Bryn Hall
      22. Marty McKenzie
      23. George Bridge

BNZ Crusaders stun Highlanders 30-27 with late flurry of tries in Dunedin

BNZ Crusaders stun Pulse Energy Highlanders 30-27 with late flurry of tries in Dunedin... It will be remembered by Highlanders fans as the one that got away.

The Crusaders, like thieves in the night, stormed back from a 27-6 deficit to win 30-27 in Dunedin tonight. Crusaders winger Seta Tamanivalu sealed the win, which seemed most unlikely even 15 minutes earlier, when he streaked down the right-hand sideline and touched down with a couple of minutes to play.

Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty cut inside Highlanders loose forward Gareth Evans. His try followed late five-pointers to Whetu Douglas and David Havili, with Douglas' and Tamanivalu's winner coming after the Highlanders had been Highlanders fans were left stunned after the final whistle, particularly as they had jumped out to a 21-point lead early in the second half.

But the Crusaders, who were limited on attack for the first 60 minutes, hit back in style to improve their record to two wins from as many games under new coach Scott Robertson. On the other side of the ledger, the Highlanders are winless after two home games and must now hit the road for away games against the Blues and Hurricanes.

Coming off a disjointed loss to the Chiefs to start the season, the Dunedin-based franchise started well. Winger Waisake Naholo bagged a double and loose forward Gareth Evans added another to rock the visitors under the roof.

There was talk all week from the Highlanders' camp that they wanted less possession than they had - and wasted - during their round one loss to the Chiefs, and that's what they got. Their kicking game was on point, as they bombarded the Crusaders with high kicks and repeatedly sent them scurrying back into their own half with raking punts.

All their tries came via set piece, with both Naholo's involving deft kicks - one each from Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga. Just like last year's game at the same venue, the Crusaders dominated early proceedings but couldn't turn the possession and territory into tries. Instead, it was the Highlanders who got into their work. It took 126 minutes of rugby, but their first try of the season - scored by replacement flanker Gareth Evans - was worth the wait.

Setup with a lineout 22m out, hooker Liam Coltman delivered a peach of a long throw to flying winger Naholo, who stepped off his left-leg and fed Evans inside to crash over. Naholo went from provider to scorer 10 minutes later, when he latched on to a perfect Smith kick in behind the napping Crusaders. The Highlanders winger comfortably gassed his opposite, Tamanivalu, who must have been wondering where on earth fullback Havili had gone. He was standing in the defensive line keeping an eye on Richard Buckman, but was soon staring at the scoreboard, which read 17-6 to the Highlanders.

Naholo's second, which put his side up 27-6 early in the second half, was arguably better. Fekitoa got on the end of a perfect Sopoaga chip, before flicking an inside ball to his rampaging winger.

However, a monster scrum under the sticks resulted in referee Paul Williams awarding the visitors a penalty try to pull to within 27-13. Havili added five more points after Tamanivalu slipped him a pass out wide and the comeback was on. Already riddled with injuries, the Highlanders lost reserve hooker Adrian Smith during the warm up and flanker James Lentjes (dislocated elbow) inside the first minute.

Plenty of Crusaders fans travelled south for the 30th game between the teams, and a red and black flag marking the boundary between the two franchises on the Waitaki River bridge this week was further proof the rivalry still captures the fans' attention.

The teams will meet again on June 3, when the Highlanders travel to Christchurch for an early afternoon game.

AT A GLANCE
Crusaders 30 (Penalty try, David Havili, Whetu Douglas, Seta Tamanivalu, Mitch Hunt 2 pen, Marty McKenzie 1 con) Highlanders 27 (Gareth Evans, Waisake Naholo 2 tries; Lima Sopoaga 3 con, 2 pen) HT: 17-6.

Credit: ROBERT VAN ROYEN from stuff.co.nz

Nivea Men partners with Crusaders

The BNZ Crusaders have announced a new partnership for 2017, with prominent skincare brand NIVEA Men on board to ensure the players remain fresh-faced throughout the Investec Super Rugby season.

NIVEA Men Brand Manager Guy Giovenco said the core values of both organisations ensure the partnership is a great fit: “We are thrilled to support the Crusaders as they embark on another Super Rugby season. We believe the values which have seen them become such a successful team align well with those of our parent company, Beiersdorf, and make the relationship a natural fit.”

Giovenco said the strong relationship between the Crusaders and Fiji also inspired an upcoming campaign focused on the Fiji market and featuring some of the Fijian Crusaders players.

“We distribute the NIVEA Men range to Fiji and we know that rugby is an important part of Fijian culture, so it made sense for us to partner with the Crusaders, as a side that have such strong ties with the Pacific Island nation.”

BNZ Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said the partnership was a first for the Super Rugby side: “This will be the first time NIVEA Men has sponsored a Super Rugby team in New Zealand, and it is exciting to have such a prominent brand on board.

“Although skincare may seem far removed from the rugby field, NIVEA Men is a popular and well-respected brand, and we look forward to teaming up with them as our official grooming partner.”

The NIVEA Men campaign featuring the BNZ Crusaders is about to launch in New Zealand, and will launch in Fiji at the end of March.

Crusaders Knights team named to play Highlanders Bravehearts

Crusaders Knights Head Coach Joe Maddock has named his side to take on the Highlanders Development team in Dunedin this Saturday.

Only four players, Tim Perry, Oli Jager, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis and Manasa Mataele, remain in the starting fifteen from the side that drew 34-all with the Highlanders Bravehearts at Linfield Park in Christchurch last weekend.

Maddock said the Crusaders Knights fixtures provide players with valuable experience against other devleopment sides in New Zealand: “The Crusaders Knights is made up of both Crusaders Development team members and non-playing BNZ Crusaders squad members, so it is great to be able to give different players an opportunity each week and to give non-playing BNZ Crusaders some valuable game time.

“We scored six tries last weekend and showed some really positive intent in that match, so there is a challenge ahead for the players selected this week to build on the positive start we made at home last Saturday."

The match will act as curtain raiser to the BNZ Crusaders’ second Investec Super Rugby game of the 2017 season, when they take on the Highlanders at 7:35pm.

The Crusaders Knights game is scheduled to kick off at 5:00pm on Saturday 4 March, at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Crusaders Knights team to play Highlanders Development team:

  1. Tim Perry
  2. Nathan Vella
  3. Oliver Jager
  4. Mitchell Dunshea
  5. Quinten Strange
  6. Ethan Blackadder
  7. Pete Samu
  8. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
  9. Leon Fukofuka
  10. Tim O’Malley
  11. Digby Ioane
  12. Inga Finau
  13. Poasa Waqanibau
  14. Manasa Mataele
  15. Josh McKay
  16. Tom Crozier
  17. Chris Gawler
  18. Jack Straker
  19. Jonno Osbourne
  20. Tom Christie
  21. Ere Enari
  22. Will Jordan
  23. Nigel Gibb
  24. Tima Faingaanuku
  25. Brett Cameron

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Highlanders

The BNZ Crusaders will travel south to play the Highlanders in Dunedin this weekend, and Head Coach Scott Robertson has made eight changes to the squad of 23 that beat the Brumbies in last weekend's opening round of Super Rugby.

There are two changes in the forwards - the first is at hooker, with Codie Taylor and Ben Funnell rotating so that Taylor takes the starting spot this Saturday night. The other change is in the loose forwards, with Matt Todd returning to wear the seven jersey and Jed Brown on the bench.

In the backs, Seta Tamanivalu shifts to the left wing, allowing Israel Dagg to move from fullback to the right wing. David Havili steps in at fullback, and Mitchell Hunt will start at first five following Richie Mo'unga's hand injury.

Marty McKenzie takes a spot in the reserves as backs cover, and halfback Mitchell Drummond returns from his broken leg to take a seat on the bench.

The BNZ Crusaders will travel to Dunedin tomorrow and kick off is at 7:35pm on Saturday night at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Highlanders:

      1. Joe Moody
      2. Codie Taylor
      3. Owen Franks
      4. Scott Barrett
      5. Sam Whitelock (C)
      6. Jordan Taufua
      7. Matt Todd (VC)
      8. Whetu Douglas
      9. Bryn Hall
      10. Mitchell Hunt
      11. Seta Tamanivalu
      12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
      13. Jack Goodhue
      14. Israel Dagg
      15. David Havili

RESERVES

      16. Ben Funnell
      17. Wyatt Crockett
      18. Michael Alaalatoa
      19. Luke Romano
      20. Jed Brown
      21. Mitchell Drummond
      22. Marty McKenzie
      23. George Bridge

Adidas Unveils Special Edition Super Rugby Jerseys

ADIDAS UNVEILS SPECIAL EDITION SUPER RUGBY JERSEYS IN PREPARATION FOR THE DHL NZ LIONS TOUR

Jersey designs inspired by the historic battle with British & Irish Lions - All five New Zealand teams will wear the jerseys during Investec Super Rugby Season - Available only during 2017.

Auckland, New Zealand, 1st March 2017 – adidas Rugby has today begun the offensive against the British and Irish Lions by unveiling a range of special edition Super Rugby jerseys. The range is set to be worn by each team during the Investec Super Rugby season, and again in their highly-anticipated matches against the British & Irish Lions in June.

The special edition Super Rugby jerseys have been specifically designed to showcase the territories each team represents and will protect against the British and Irish Lions. The five jerseys will feature a distressed map design of their respective club territory, with each of the 26 Provincial Unions that make up the Super Rugby regions represented.

Battle-ground co-ordinates have also been added to the sleeve of the jerseys that pinpoint the exact locations of the stadiums where the team will take on the Lions.

Senior Director of adidas Rugby, Simon Cartwright, says: “It’s a big year for rugby in New Zealand with the return of the Lions, so we want to arm all teams with everything they need to defend their territories.”

“Each jersey is a visual representation of the pride they have in their region and what’s become very clear to us in our conversations with team leaders is that losing this battle is not an option.” Cartwright concludes.

NZR General Manager of the DHL NZ Lions Series 2017, Nigel Cass, said the matches involving the Investec Super Rugby teams provide fans in the five regions the opportunity to see their teams take on the best players of the Northern Hemisphere.

“The fixtures involving the British & Irish Lions and Super Rugby teams are unique and will be remembered for years to come. It’s great that the teams will wear adidas special edition jerseys for these matches and we’re confident they will prove popular among fans.” Cass concludes.

The special edition Super Rugby jerseys are available in kids and mens sizes, priced at $110 RRP and $150 RRP respectively. The range will be stocked at all adidas stores, rugby retailers and online at www.adidas.com.

A Brush With Kindness for Christchurch family

A Christchurch family will receive a helping hand with some much-needed home maintenance this Tuesday, thanks to Infor and Habitat for Humanity.

The Beattie family are the latest recipients of Habitat for Humanity’s ‘A Brush With Kindness’ programme, which helps low income families to make their homes healthy and safe. Habitat for Humanity (Christchurch) General Manager Peter Taylor said the Beattie family were referred to Habitat for Humanity because their home in Phillipstown is in urgent need of repairs to make it secure and keep out winter cold and damp for the seven children living there.

“There are many cases of low income home owners who are unable to pay for basic maintenance to their house, because they can hardly afford their weekly expenses. There might have been a change or circumstance or simply rising costs that have resulted in home ownership becoming unaffordable over time. In the case of Rose Beattie and her children, there are some urgent repairs needed, such as installing ventilation, insulating curtains and a lockable external door, that will make their home life happier, healthier and safer,” Mr Taylor said.

BNZ Crusaders sponsor, Infor, are sending approximately 20 staff from New Zealand, Australia and the New York corporate headquarters to work on the Beattie family home next Tuesday. Infor Head of Communications, Dan Barnhardt said the project was part of their global partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and an important way for the company to continue contributing to the Canterbury community.

“We are committed to being actively involved in the future of this region, which is why partnered with the Crusaders and why we are back here to assist with another Habitat for Humanity project in Christchurch, after helping out with the ‘Habitat Hand-up Christchurch’ programme in 2015 that saw 21 new homes built to re-house families in need following the Christchurch earthquakes. It is something that our staff love being a part of, and is reflects our organisation’s values,” Barnhardt said.

BNZ Crusaders players will be going along to the Beattie home on Tuesday evening to cook a barbeque for the workers, to thank them for their efforts.

Dagg to mark his Super Rugby tonne against the Brumbies

The BNZ Crusaders open their 2017 Super Rugby season at home this Saturday night when they take on the Brumbies.

Head Coach Scott Robertson has named six debutants in his side, and Israel Dagg will become the latest Super Rugby centurion when he takes the field as fullback on Saturday night.

“Izzy is obviously a talented individual, but he also impresses with his commitment and positive influence within the team environment,” Robertson said. “To reach 100 Super Rugby games tonight is testament to both his undeniable skillset and determination to play at an elite level. We know our fans will be excited for him to run out on to AMI Stadium for his 100th match and as a team we want to make it a memorable one.”

Dagg will be joined in the backs by four BNZ Crusaders debutants – Bryn Hall at halfback; George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu on the wings and Jack Goodhue at centre. Halfback Ere Enari is also set to make his debut if he comes off the bench. Five eighths Richie Mo’unga and Ryan Crotty complete the starting back line, while Mitchell Hunt and David Havili provide cover from the bench.

The BNZ Crusaders forward pack is brimming with experience. Joe Moody and Owen Franks are the starting props with Wyatt Crockett and Mike Alaalatoa in reserve, and Ben Funnell and Codie Taylor will cover hooker. Scott Barrett and new BNZ Crusaders Captain Sam Whitelock will start at lock, with Luke Romano providing cover. Loose forwards Jordan Taufua and Matt Todd will be joined by debutant Whetu Douglas at No.8, and Pete Samu will be ready to make an impact off the bench.

In acknowledgement of the Fire and Civil Defence crews who have worked tirelessly to control the Port Hills fires, the BNZ Crusaders have linked with their sponsor Infor to provide 400 tickets to the match free of charge. Stadium manager VBase has added a free drink with every ticket, to help ensure that these Fire Service and Civil Defence staff can enjoy a well deserved night out following a harrowing couple of weeks.

The BNZ Crusaders vs Brumbies will kick off at 7:35pm at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium, with pre-match entertainment and plenty of food and drink options at the new vendor village from 6pm when the gates open. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz, via the new TicketDirect app or from our usual ticketing outlets of; Eastgate Mall, The Palms or Champions of the World South City. You can now also pre-purchase a carpark pass for $5 at AMI Stadium or book the Rugby Express Park & Ride service ($5 adults & $3 kids) from TicketDirect or via the TicketDirect app.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Brumbies:

      1. Joe Moody
      2. Ben Funnell
      3. Owen Franks
      4. Scott Barrett
      5. Sam Whitelock (C)
      6. Jordan Taufua
      7. Matt Todd (VC)
      8. Whetu Douglas *
      9. Bryn Hall *
      10. Richie Mo’unga
      11. George Bridge *
      12. Ryan Crotty (VC)
      13. Jack Goodhue *
      14. Seta Tamanivalu *
      15. Israel Dagg
    RESERVES
      16. Codie Taylor
      17. Wyatt Crockett
      18. Michael Alaalatoa
      19. Luke Romano
      20. Pete Samu
      21. Ereatari Enari *
      22. Mitchell Hunt
      23. David Havili
      * Crusaders debut

Crusaders Knights team named to play Highlanders Development side

The Crusaders Knights will kick off the 2017 season at home, when they play the Highlanders Development side this Saturday at Linfield Park in Christchurch.

Head Coach Joe Maddock has named his team to take on the Bravehearts, which includes 10 players from the BNZ Crusaders squad in the starting fifteen.

The match provides Christchurch fans with the opportunity to watch the Crusaders Development side in action, before heading along to the BNZ Crusaders’ first game of the Investec Super Rugby season against the Brumbies, from 7:35pm at AMI Stadium.

Kick-off at Linfield Park for the Crusaders Knights game is scheduled for 1:45pm on Saturday 25 February, and entry to the match is free.

Crusaders Knights team to play Highlanders Development team:

      1. Tim Perry
      2. Andrew Makalio
        3. Oli Jager
          4. Jack Powell
            5. Jonno Osbourne
              6. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
                7. Jed Brown
                  8. Sam Godwin
                    9. Mitchell Drummond
                      10. Marty McKenzie
                        11. Sione Fifita
                          12. Sean Wainui
                            13. Braydon Ennor
                              14. Manasa Mataele
                                15. Will Jordan
                                  16. Nathan Vella
                                    17. Harry Allen
                                      18. Samu Tawake
                                        19. Tom Christie
                                          20. Isaiah Miller
                                            21. Leon Fukofuka
                                              22. Tim O’Malley
                                                23. Tima Faingaanuku
                                                  24. Josh McKay
                                                    25. Ray Nu’u

Crusaders Knights squad named for 2017 season

Crusaders Knights Head Coach Joe Maddock has named his 32-man squad for the 2017 season, which includes nine New Zealand U20 trialists, as well as current Canterbury and Tasman Mitre 10 Cup players.

The Crusaders development side, which was named following trials on 10 and 11 February at Lincoln University, features emerging Mitre 10 Cup, Academy and club players from throughout the region. Non-playing BNZ Crusaders squad members will also be involved, providing them with valuable game time.

Maddock says the trials highlighted the wealth of up and coming talent in the Crusaders region: “We were really impressed by the calibre of players who trialed last weekend, and believe we have a really strong squad for the upcoming matches against the Highlanders and Hurricanes development teams.

“These games provide a great opportunity for young players to represent the Crusaders region and gain some valuable experience alongside those who have already been involved at Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby level.”

The side will play their first of three matches on Saturday 25 February against the Highlanders development side (Bravehearts), with the match scheduled to kick off at 1:45pm from Linfield Park in Christchurch. This will provide Christchurch fans with a chance to watch some top-class rugby throughout the afternoon, with the BNZ Crusaders first Investec Super Rugby match of 2017 set to take place afterwards, when they face the Brumbies from 7:35pm at AMI Stadium.

The Crusaders Knights will play the Bravehearts for a second time on 4 March, in a match scheduled to be the curtain raiser for the BNZ Crusaders match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The team travel north to Levin for their final fixture against the Hurricanes development side on 25 March.

Crusaders Knights squad:

Name Club Provincial Union
Harry Allan Sydenham Canterbury
Chris Gawler Lincoln University Canterbury
Tom Hill Stoke Tasman
Samu Tawake Sumner Canterbury
Blair Prinsep HSOB Tasman
Jack Straker Sydenham Canterbury
Sean Paranihi Sumner Canterbury
Tom Crozier Sumner Canterbury
Nathan Vella New Brighton Canterbury
Pari Pari Parkinson Stoke Tasman
Jonno Osborne Lincoln University Canterbury
Jack Powell Lincoln University Canterbury
Will Tucker Christchurch Canterbury
Dylan Nel Sumner Canterbury
Ethan Blackadder Nelson Tasman
Isaiah Miller Nelson Tasman
Sam Godwin University of Canterbury Canterbury
Tom Christie Christchurch Canterbury
Ere Enari Lincoln University Canterbury
Jack Stratton Lincoln University Canterbury
Tim O’Malley Waitohi Tasman
Brett Cameron Lincoln University Tasman
Ray Nu’u Sydenham Canterbury
Braydon Ennor University of Canterbury Canterbury
Nigel Gibb University of Canterbury Canterbury
Inga Finau Christchurch Canterbury
Poasa Waqanibau Sumner Canterbury
Will Jordan Christchurch Tasman
Caleb Makene Lincoln University Canterbury
Ngane Punivai Lincoln University Canterbury
Tima Faingaanuku Nelson Tasman
Josh McKay Lincoln University Canterbury

BNZ Crusaders team to play Hurricanes in pre-season match

The BNZ Crusaders have their final pre-season hit out this Friday evening before the season proper begins. Head Coach Scott Robertson has named a strong side to take on the Hurricanes in Waverley, including 11 All Blacks.

Sam Whitelock will kick off his 2017 Captaincy, and he will be assisted by his two vice-captains for the season, Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty.

“We are thrilled to announce Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty as our 2017 vice-captains,” Robertson said. “They are both natural leaders who make a huge contribution through their intelligent reading of the game. They are stalwarts of the team – Ryan has already notched up over 100 caps and Matt is on track to mark his century this year – and have the respect of their teammates.”

Friday’s clash with the Hurricanes kicks off at 5pm at the Border Rugby Club in Waverley. The BNZ Crusaders will play their 2017 season opener against the Brumbies the following weekend, 7:35pm Saturday 25 February at AMI Stadium. Tickets are on sale now for that game through ticketdirect.co.nz

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Hurricanes:

RESERVES
1. Tim Perry Joe Moody
2. Ben Funnell Wyatt Crockett
3. Owen Franks Michael Alaalatoa
4. Scott Barret Codie Taylor
5. Sam Whitelock (c) Quinten Strange
6. Pete Samu Sydenham
7. Matt Todd (vc) Mitchell Dunshea
8. Whetu Douglas Jed Brown
9. Ere Enari Jordan Taufua
10. Richie Mo’unga Bryn Hall
11. George Bridge Mitchell Drummond
12. Ryan Crotty (vc) Mitch Hunt
13. Jack Goodhue Sione Fifita
14. Seta Tamanivalu David Havili
15. Israel Dagg Sean Wainui
Manasa Mataele
Marty McKenzie

Israel Dagg makes his decision – and it’s New Zealand

Sensational All Blacks outside back Israel Dagg is here to stay.

28-year-old Dagg has today confirmed that he has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, the BNZ Crusaders and Hawke’s Bay Magpies through to 2019, spurning offers from overseas to continue playing for the teams he loves.

“There’s no doubt that there were some attractive offers to consider,” Dagg said, “but at the end of the day I love my life here in New Zealand with my family, friends and team mates and I’m not ready to give that up. I still feel blessed every time I pull on the jersey for the All Blacks, Crusaders or Magpies so I consider it an honour to be able to keep working hard to earn that right for the next three years.”

Dagg’s re-commitment is back-to-back fantastic news for New Zealand Rugby, coming just days after his team mate Ben Smith re-signed with New Zealand Rugby.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “To have a player of Israel’s ability and versatility re-sign is a major lift for all levels of New Zealand Rugby.

“We appreciate the decision ‘Izzy’ and his wife Daisy have made and to be able to plan the future, knowing that we’ll have him involved makes life so much easier for us all, and we look forward to the challenges ahead.

“Having secured two key players back to back, I think it’s important to again pay tribute to all the parties involved in the deal, including the Essentially Group and everyone at New Zealand Rugby. This is a massive achievement and their role in getting two big deals across the line should be recognised.”

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson commended Dagg’s sense of loyalty and pride in the teams he represents.

“We have an idea about the sort of offers that players of Israel’s calibre are presented with from overseas, and it can never be easy for a player to turn that down. But Izzy is a player who, for all of his natural talent, has never taken his place in a team for granted. He has experienced disappointment, and that has only increased his appreciation and determination. He is such a positive influence on this team, on and off the field, so we couldn’t be happier to have him sticking around,” Robertson said.

Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union CEO Mike Bishop also added his congratulations.

“Israel's re-signing with New Zealand Rugby, the Crusaders and Hawke's Bay is tremendous news and demonstrates his commitment and passion for each of those organisations. His signing for Hawke's Bay until 2019 will mean he will be a 14- year Magpie, having made his debut in 2006. That places him alongside the greatest and longest-serving players to wear the famous black and white jersey."

Israel Dagg is All Black No 1101 and has played 61 Tests for the All Blacks, scoring scored 128 points (24 tries, one conversion, two penalties). He stormed onto the national rugby scene for Hawke’s Bay at Under 16 level, and became one of the few players to be selected for a provincial side while still in high school when he made the Magpies team in 2006. He was selected for the Highlanders in 2009 and made his All Blacks debut against Ireland in June the following year, a week after his 22nd birthday. The Crusaders signed him in 2011 and he has played 74 games for them since. With his Crusaders and Highlanders caps combined, Dagg will mark 100 Super Rugby games the first time he takes the field for the BNZ Crusaders in 2017. He recently announced that he and wife Daisy are expecting their first child.

BNZ Crusaders Super Sale selling out fast!

To celebrate the BNZ Crusaders’ 200th player, 200 tickets to the opening game for the 2017 season were offered for sale today at $9, and sold out within minutes of going on sale at 9am.

Since the inaugural season of Super Rugby in 1996, 197 players have pulled on the Crusaders jersey. With 14 members of the 2017 squad yet to earn a Crusaders cap, we are expecting to celebrate our 200th Crusader within the first few rounds of this season and quite possibly at the first game against the Brumbies at AMI Stadium on Saturday 25 February.

BNZ Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said this was a unique milestone and one worth celebrating.

“As we head into our 22nd Crusade, we have won 200 of our 300 matches are we are about to mark our 200th Crusader. It is an incredibly proud history and also a very exciting future as we take on the 2017 season with a new coaching group and a number of new players.

“We wanted to celebrate that with the people who mean the most to us – our supporters. So we created a ‘Super Sale’ that includes 200 $9 tickets to the opening game against the Brumbies, as well as a $99 Platinum Package deal for the Brumbies and Blues games, and a $119 Golden 3 Game NZ Super Pass for our three derby games at home. The 200 tickets for the Brumbies game sold out pretty much as soon they went on sale this morning, but it is not too late to pick up tickets for our two other great package deals,” Mr Riach said.

More information is available at crusaders.co.nz and tickets can be purchased through www.ticketdirect.co.nz.

The BNZ Crusaders will face the Brumbies at 7:35pm on Saturday 15 February at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium.

BNZ Crusaders Beat Highlanders at Darfield

New Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had every reason to cut a relaxed figure after he observed his side run in eight tries during their 50-33 win over the Highlanders on Saturday evening.

Robertson, in his first season in charge of the Crusaders following Todd Blackadder's move to English club Bath, would be the first to accept Super Rugby trial games are not worth a pinch of dust when the competition proper starts but he had to be happy with this effort in sunbaked Darfield.

Weight of possession favoured the Crusaders who were led by the vigorous and robust Jordan Taufua from No 8 in the first spell, a position he may fill when the competition because All Blacks captain Kieran Read, who is recovering from wrist surgery, isn't expected to be available until early April.

Given more than 10 All Blacks were not involved - lock Luke Romano and midfielder Seta Tamanivalu were the only internationals on duty for the hosts, while No 8 Luke Whitelock was the sole test rep for the Highlanders - it was a decent blow-out.

Robertson might be a rookie coach at this level, but there was no chance of him unveiling any key plans in a preseason game. He instructed his team to stick to a strategy of keeping the ball alive, keep their shape on attack, and play flat-out.

"That was a very young group out there, it was just about guys showing some intensity and that is what they did a lot of ways," Robertson said. "We saw some great tries, good skills and desperation in defence. It was a good mix."

Tamanivalu, who has transferred south from the Chiefs, should be a very useful asset; he used his power to decent effect when subbed on in the second half and his arrival coincided with that of Tim Bateman, back at the Crusaders after stints in Japan and with the Hurricanes.

New Highlanders coach Tony Brown shouldn't have been dissatisfied with his players' efforts; while his men were often off the ground fast after making tackles, it was their execution in simple one-on-one situations that allowed the Crusaders ball runners to get offloads off the galloping support runners.

Even Prime Minister Bill English, a Highlanders supporter who was among the 5,200 spectators, couldn't have quibbled with this result.

Following a scoreless first quarter the Crusaders accumulated four tries in the second 20 minutes. The Crusaders could almost touch the tryline when rewarded with an attacking scrum in the early minutes, but that opportunity slithered through their fingers when the Highlanders monstered their set-piece and won a penalty.

Ex-Blues halfback Bryn Hall featured when he grabbed the Crusaders' third five-pointer, his partnership with first five-eighth Richie Mo'unga proving solid prior to the duo being replaced by Leon Fukofuka and Mitchell Hunt at halftime.

Halfback Kayne Hammington and lock Tom Franklin contributed for the Highlanders in the first spell, the latter piercing the defensive line with a show-and-go prior to darting over between the sticks.

New wing Tevita Li, having been recruited from the Blues, got limited opportunities but his bulk and pace could valuable and midfielder Matt Faddes announced his arrival in the second spell with a try.

Crusaders 50 (Manasa Mataele, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Bryn Hall, Seta Tamanivalu, Tim Bateman, Sean Wainui, Pari Pari Parkinson tries; Richie Mo'unga 3 con, Mitchell Hunt 2 con) Highlanders 33 (Kayne Hammington, Tom Franklin, Tei Walden, Matt Faddes, Adrian Smith tries; Fletcher Smith 2 con, Marty Banks 2 con). HT: 26-14

Report courtesy of stuff.co.nz

BNZ Crusaders team to face Highlanders in Farmlands Cup

The BNZ Crusaders kick off their 2017 pre-season matches with the second annual Farmlands Cup fixture this Saturday. They will take on the Pulse Energy Highlanders at the Darfield Rugby Club, which has had a grandstand erected to seat the crowd expected on the day.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson has named a 30 man squad for the game, which will be played with rolling subs. A raft of players will wear the BNZ Crusaders strip for the first time, including eight players on the bench who have been involved in the Crusaders development programme. Jordan Taufua will have his first opportunity to captain the team.

The inaugural Farmlands Cup was played between the Crusaders and Highlanders last year in Waimumu. It aims to bring top quality rugby to the country, and there is $5,000 at stake thanks to Farmlands, which the winning team will donate to the charity of their choice. The BNZ Crusaders have chosen the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, in recognition of the challenges many in rural North Canterbury have been facing following the Kaikoura earthquakes. The Highlanders have chosen the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust for their charity. Last year’s match ended in a tie, meaning the money was split between the two charities.

The match will kick off at 5pm this Saturday, 4 February. Just over 100 tickets are still available and can only be purchased online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz or via the new TicketDirect app. Car-parking will be available in the Darfield Domain for $5, so attendees are advised to bring cash.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Highlanders:

REPLACEMENTS
1. Tim Perry Nathan Vella +
2. Ben Funnell Andrew Makalio **
3. Michael Alaalatoa Oliver Jager **
4. Mitchell Dunshea ** Chris Gawler +
5. Luke Romano Samu Tawake +
6. Pete Samu Quinten Strange **
7. Jed Brown ** Pari Pari Parkinson +
8. Jordan Taufua (c) Tom Christie +
9. Bryn Hall * Whetu Douglas +
10. Richie Mo’unga Leon Fukofuka
11. George Bridge ** Ereatara Enari +
12. David Havili Mitchell Hunt
13. Jack Goodhue ** Sione Fifita **
14. Manasa Mataele ** Tim Bateman
15. Marty McKenzie Seta Tamanivalu *
Sean Wainui
Inga Finau +

* indicates no Crusaders caps

** indicates no Super Rugby caps

+ indicates development player

BNZ Crusaders name squad for Brisbane Global Tens

The BNZ Crusaders have named a strong side to contest the inaugural Brisbane Global Tens competition on 11 and 12 February.

All Black Seta Tamanivalu and fellow international Digby Ioane have been named in the squad, while Israel Dagg will travel with the group in his tournament ambassador role, but not take the field. All Black Luke Romano would have been named in the squad but has unfortunately been ruled out of the tournament with an injury. The remainder of the squad is a mix of new talent who will be keen to shine at the tournament, and highly experienced players who will bring vital knowledge and match experience to the group.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said the chance to play in a well-attended tournament in the pre-season would be great preparation for the Super Rugby season ahead.

“It is exciting to be involved in a new tournament like this in it’s first year, and getting to play in front of a noisy crowd is also valuable preparation in the pre-season. We are looking forward to fielding a really strong squad at the Tens and showcasing what we’re capable of. We have some tough competition, so it will be a really good test of where we are at before the Super season starts,” Robertson said.

The BNZ Crusaders will play in what looks to be one of the toughest pools of the competition. They will face unknown quantity Samoa in their opening match, before taking on tournament host Reds and traditional rival Blues.

The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens features all ten professional franchises from Australia and New Zealand, along with French powerhouse Toulon, Japanese Top League side Panasonic Wild Knights, the Blue Bulls from South Africa and the Samoan national team. The tournament takes place at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on February 11 and 12.

BNZ CRUSADERS SQUAD FOR THE BRISBANE GLOBAL RUGBY TENS:

Backs Forwards
Bryn Hall Ben Funnell
Leon Fukofuka Andrew Makalio
Mitchell Hunt Tim Perry
Digby Ioane Chris Gawler
George Bridge Michael Alaalatoa
Sione Fifita Oliver Jager
David Havilia Mitchell Dunshea
Tim Bateman Quinten Strange
Jack Goodhue Pete Samu
Seta Tamanivalu Jordan Taufua
Manasa Mataele Jed Brown
Sean Wainui Whetu Douglas
Marty McKenzie

BNZ Crusaders in your community this Wednesday

The BNZ Crusaders are heading to Kaikoura, Waiau, Hanmer Springs, Amberley, Darfield, Methven and Ashburton this Wednesday on a community crusade. Groups of players will spend a day in the regions, lending a hand to community projects, dropping in on some local businesses and visiting local rugby clubs.

The BNZ Crusaders will provide some manpower to community projects in each region, including working bees at some local schools, restoring the water tanker and goal posts to the Kaikoura Rugby Club, bike track maintenance in Methven, tidying up community gardens in Waiau and painting a community building in Hanmer Springs.

Head along and meet the players in the following locations:

Amberley
4:00-5:00pm Amberley Rugby Football Club

Ashburton
3:30-4:30pm Couplands store

Darfield
8:45-9:30am Farmlands store with the Farmlands Cup

Hanmer Springs
1:45-3:00pm Paint the “Banana House” community building in the Village Green

Kaikoura
10:30am-12:30pm Cleaning up both the Kaikoura High and Kaikoura Suburban Schools
1:00-2:15pm BBQ Lunch with the team at the Kaikoura Suburban School
2:30-3:30pm Kaikoura Rugby Football Club (Takahanga Domain)

Methven
10:15-11:30am Maintenance on the BMX track behind Methven Primary School
10:15-11:30am Maintenance on the Mt Hutt BMX track
11:30am-12:30pm Working bee at Methven Pre-school
1:30-3:00pm Installing new playground at Our Lady of the Snows School

Waiau
10:00am-12:00pm Skills session and community garden clean up at the Village Green
12:00-1:00pm BBQ Lunch with the team at the Village Green

Crusaders and Highlanders heading to Darfield - tickets on sale

Tckets for the second annual Farmlands Cup fixture will go on sale this Wednesday at 9am, with only 1500 tickets left for the BNZ Crusaders vs Pulse Energy Highlanders match.

Following on from the success of the inaugural Farmlands Cup fixture hosted by the Highlanders in Waimumu in February 2016, the BNZ Crusaders will this time play host to their southern neighbours at the Darfield Rugby Club on 4 February, 2017.

Farmlands shareholders, local junior rugby clubs and BNZ Crusaders season ticket holders have had an opportunity to purchase tickets already, and the remainder of tickets will now be made available to the public for purchase.

Last year’s Farmlands Cup fixture was a thrilling 19-all stalemate played in front of a sellout crowd, and the re-match promises to be just as exciting. A new grandstand is currently being erected at the Darfield Rugby Club to accommodate a 5,000-strong crowd.

In keeping with the aim to bring top class rugby back to the grassroots, the local Darfield community will be involved as much as possible in the event. Pre-match entertainment will include two Rippa rugby games between Darfield and Southbridge teams. The ballboys have been selected locally through a Farmlands competition, and match officials include Darfield Division 1 player and Ellesmere referee Sam O’Reilly as Subs Controller for the Crusaders; fellow Ellesmere referee Juan Shalfoon as sideline manager; and Darfield High School student Joseph Feltell as referee for one of the Rippa rugby games.

The winner of the Farmlands Cup will receive a $5,000 purse donated by Farmlands. This will be given to the winning team’s selected charity – the Rural Support Trust for the Crusaders or the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust for the Highlanders.

Tickets can only be purchased online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz

Mo'unga re-signs with BNZ Crusaders

Rising star Richie Mo’unga has committed to furthering his career in red and black, having re-signed with the BNZ Crusaders through to the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.

The young first five-eighth had a standout debut season in 2016, playing in every game for the BNZ Crusaders and ending the year as the competition’s fourth highest points scorer.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson was impressed with how Mo’unga grew in to his role in 2016 and is looking forward to seeing his game develop over the coming seasons.

“Richie is one of Super Rugby’s most exciting young stars. He has talent to burn, is composed under pressure and has a mature head on such young shoulders. He exceeded expectations in his debut season and has the ability to be an important player in the future of BNZ Crusaders rugby. We have a proud history of producing exceptional first five-eighths at the Crusaders and Richie has the potential to be among them,” Robertson said.

Mo’unga has made quick progress through the rugby ranks, going straight from school boy rugby to the Canterbury provincial team in 2013, and then making his Super Rugby debut last year at just 21 years of age.

Mo’unga says, as a Christchurch boy who grew up watching his heroes play for this team, he felt honoured to sign on for the Crusaders for an additional two seasons.

“Growing up in Christchurch it was always a dream of mine to play for the Crusaders and having realised that dream in 2016 I am looking forward to taking the next step in my Super Rugby career. I still have plenty to learn but I believe this is the best environment for me to develop my game. The opportunity to represent my home team over the next few seasons is a huge privilege and one I do not take forgranted”.

Visit crusaderforlife.com to view the full interview from both Richie and coach Brad Mooar from this morning's media announcement.