Samoan, nine newbies in Crusaders squad
Samoan international Jeremy Su'a is the surprise inclusion in the Crusaders squad today.
Su'a, 23, has been recruited as a back-up to Canterbury halfbacks Andy Ellis and Willi Heinz following a string of impressive performances with Tasman this season.
One of Su'a's main attributes is his quick, accurate pass and if he can do enough to impress the coaches in 2013 he may be considered a longer-term option to replace Ellis if the former All Black decides to sign with an overseas club following the Super Rugby competition.
Su'a was a member of Samoa's World Cup squad last year and has also represented Australia at Under-19 level.
Blackadder has introduced nine newcomers into his squad, including four members of this year's wider training group.
They are lock Dominic Bird, outside back Johnny McNicholl, prop Joe Moody and hooker Codie Taylor. All are from Canterbury.
''We recognised last season that these were players with real promise, and all of them have really proven themselves both as part of the Crusaders' wider training group and particularly in the important contributions they all made to the Canterbury ITM Cup team this year,'' Blackadder said.
Canterbury prop Nepo Laulala, the younger brother of former All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Casey, and loose forward Jordan Taufua have also been included.
Taufua, a controversial inclusion in the Canterbury reserves for the NPC play-offs after he was re-called from his loan duties with Tasman, will add depth to the back row that will be without All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw until early July.
His impressive displays with Tasman resulted in some other franchises showing interest in the powerful ball carrier but he will join another fresh selection - Counties-Manukau's Jimmy Tupou - in the loose forward mix.
Missing from last year's squad are All Blacks prop Ben Franks, who has signed with the Hurricanes, hooker Quentin MacDonald (Blues), loose forward Joe Wheeler (Highlanders) and wing Patrick Osborne (Chiefs).
Wing Sean Maitland, whose NPC campaign with Canterbury was cut short because of a finger injury, will leave next month to play for Glasgow Warriors and is eligible to represent Scotland.
Openside flanker Brendan O'Connor, a Crusaders wider training group member this season, has signed with the Blues in place of Daniel Braid.
With McCaw on an extended break, Kieran Read will captain the side.
And with McCaw unavailable there was a need to recruit a back-up to openside flanker Matt Todd. This means Tasman's No 7 Shane Christie, who was this week named in the Maori All Blacks team to tour the United Kingdom, is another newcomer.
Dominic Bird, Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Shane Christie, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Tom Donnelly, Andy Ellis, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Nepo Laulala, Tom Marshall, Richie McCaw, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Jeremy Su'a, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Tom Taylor, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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