Samu's move from Australia helps Crusaders out of a hole in wake of Read injury

Pete Samu moved from Sydney to play for the Waimea Old Boys club in 2014, and made his debut for Tasman later that season.
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Pete Samu moved from Sydney to play for the Waimea Old Boys club in 2014, and made his debut for Tasman later that season.

It seems timely to scratch around for some details about Pete Samu.

Because the Melbourne-born back rower has helped the Crusaders out of a hole since Kieran Read was injured and, let's be honest, the team is blasting along okay without the All Blacks captain.

So here are the facts.

Pete Samu made his debut for Tasman after moving across from Australia in early 2014.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Pete Samu made his debut for Tasman after moving across from Australia in early 2014.

Samu battled to get starts in the first half of the Super Rugby season because while Read was recovering from wrist surgery, Whetu Douglas did a fine job at No 8 and Jordan Taufua was his usual robust self at blindside flanker.

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Then Read returned in April, and Douglas, originally recruited as injury cover from Waikato, left Christchurch to prepare his family for a shift to Italy, where he had signed for the Treviso club.

It seemed a pretty neat swap, given the Crusaders back row now had the world's best No 8 reporting for duty. Everything changed when Read broke his thumb in just his third game back, against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on April 30.

The Crusaders, who also lost captain Sam Whitelock for two weeks because of suspension, immediately rang Douglas back in New Zealand to ask if he could return but those negotiations collapsed.

So Samu started at blindside flanker against the Bulls in Pretoria and the Hurricanes in Christchurch, with Taufua shifting back to No 8.

Samu has done okay, too. He revelled in the open play during the the record 62-24 victory at Loftus Versfeld, and got his hands dirty during the 20-12 win over the Hurricanes last weekend by running 43m with the ball, and, along with centre Jack Goodhue, made the most tackles for the Crusaders (11).

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It was Samu's 10th appearance of the year, but just his fifth start. Last year, in his first season with the Crusaders, he earned just four runs as a replacement.

"The more I get to play in those positions, the more I enjoy it and it shows out on the field," Samu said.

"It [the Hurricanes game] was probably the most intense game we have had all season. We knew it was going to be like that. It wasn't so much a fast game; there were a lot of stoppages, a lot of penalties. We ground it out."

Samu, 24, had been playing for the Randwick club in Sydney when Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis suggested to Kieran Keane, then the coach of Tasman, the loose forward be invited to try his luck in the province in 2014.

"Pete is multi-skilled and I think the hard work he has done under Crusaders coach Scott Robertson is really helping," Lewis, who was the Randwick CEO when Samu arrived at the club after stints in Brisbane and Melbourne, said.

"It is quite funny, because everyone in Australia thought he was going to be a world-class sevens player but I think he is more suited to 15s. What Razor [Robertson] has done is increase his motor, skills and his speed this year."

Samu said his experience in the abbreviated side of the game had been limited: "Just club footy sevens, nothing too major."

He had previously been a member of the Waratahs wider training group, but never earned a Super Rugby cap, and is expected to start against the Chiefs in Suva on Friday night, where Robertson will hope he can keep adding heat to the contest for ruck ball and put the acid on first five-eighth Aaron Cruden - as the Crusaders did to Hurricanes playmaker Beauden Barrett.

"We thought if we defended them at the source, with the set piece, then he [Barrett] wouldn't get the chance to get his hands on the ball," Samu said. "I think we showed that out there. If you don't have much time with the ball, you can't really do much."

 

 - Stuff

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