Nemani Nadolo maybe keen for another crusade
No-one in the Crusaders' back office should stop twitching until Nemani Nadolo has re-signed for next year.
Despite contracting most of their squad for next year, and beyond, the franchise has yet to formalise an agreement with the Fijian wing, who scored both their tries in Saturday night's 21-13 victory over the Blues.
There would be an uproar in the upper South Island if they cannot broker a deal but despite the delay Nadolo, who also plays for Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, maintains he's eager to re-commit.
"It hasn't been sorted out, yet, but hopefully it will be pretty soon," Nadolo, 26, said. "I am off to Japan after this but I really want to come back and build on this. We're in talks."
Coach Todd Blackadder is confident Nadolo won't escape: "Absolutely we are keen to have him. His agent and our contracting guy are just sorting that out and then we're away."
So why hasn't he signed already?
"I have been away with Fiji for a month, so I have just got back," Nadolo said. "I'm sure things will start cranking up towards the end of the season. Hopefully they will want me and we will sort something out."
There is potential for this to be a complicated situation because Nadolo, who was born in Fiji but was raised in Queensland, could be targeted by an Australian team.
Without him the Crusaders' backline lacks a player who can make opposition defence coaches sit up with fright, something that was rammed home in the recent 16-9 loss to the Hurricanes.
By using his 125kg frame to bust tackles, combined with his knack of staying on his feet in contact, Nadolo has repeatedly breached defensive lines and is the side's leading try scorer on nine.
Nadolo was a member of the Waratahs squad in 2009 but states he has no desire to play on that side of the Tasman.
"If I am going to play Super Rugby it is going to be with the Crusaders. They have given me this opportunity, so the loyalty is there. I have always wanted to play Super Rugby and in the past things didn't go my way.
"These guys came and gave me a lifeline and I am forever indebted to them."
A number of Crusaders have already extended their contracts while others, such as George Whitelock, Corey Flynn and Tyler Bleyendaal, will move on.
Zac Guildford has already been cut from the squad and is now in France, while Andy Ellis will skip Canterbury's NPC title defence to play in Japan before linking with the Crusaders for his 10th campaign.