Nemani Nadolo announces Crusaders arrival

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014
Nemani Nadolo
MARTIN HUNTER/ Getty
READY TO PLAY: Nemani Nadolo.

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OPINION: When Nemani Nadolo finally plays for the Crusaders, keep an ear cocked for his Ocker accent.

During last Sunday's appearance for the Crusaders development team, Nadolo, who played on the left wing against the Hurricanes at the West Melton rugby club, scored two tries and kept the referee, opposition and crowd of around 100 onlookers interested with his running dialogue.

There is little doubt the Fijian-born, Aussie-raised finisher has physical presence.

But even if you closed your eyes, you would know  where the big man, who stands 1.96m and weighs around 125kg, was located.

He wasn't shy about exercising his voice box. If the Hurricanes players  were spending too long over the ball, Nadolo made sure the officials knew about it.

It was the same when the opposition were offside or had given away a penalty. And if he wanted the ball, the volume increased.

Let's hope the Fijian test player, who joined the Crusaders last month after playing under former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper for Japanese club NEC, proves just as enthusiastic with his work-rate when he plays Super Rugby.

Nadolo's performance at West Melton, his first for the franchise after  a knee injury, was satisfactory during his side's loss.

His first try was a reasonably simple catch-and-finish effort, while the other required the big rig to surge into the backline and bowl several defenders to score.

But Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder may want to wait until after next weekend's bye before rushing him back.

Maybe the hard grounds in South Africa, where they play the Lions and Cheetahs in Jo'burg and Bloemfontein, have some appeal.

***

Remember Zac Guildford?

The All BlackntsGsnte  wing was at fullback for the Crusaders side in West Melton. Guildford looked for work and carried strongly but clean breaks were rare. He also worked on his wrestling technique during an off-the-ball tussle with hooker Motu Matu'u - a bold move considering Matu'u's reputation for destroying opponents with his offensive tackles.

Yet Matu'u was in a mellow mood. Unlike Guildford, who was clearly wound-up, the Hurricanes rake broke into a bright smile afterwards.

Also on show for the Hurricanes was Andre Taylor, who was being being touted as a potential All Black in 2012. He produced a solid, rather than spectacular, display.

***

Johnny McNicholl was so pumped following his crucial turnover in the Crusaders' 14-13 win over the Stormers last weekend that it took a while to realise he had dislocated a finger.

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When ripping the ball off Sailosi Tagicakibau (who had earlier been chopped down in a fine Tom Taylor tackle as he looked set to score the match-winning try), wing McNicholl wrenched the finger from its socket when getting it caught in the player's jersey.

It's the sort of thing that makes sensitive mothers wince. Players would say ntsGitsnte it's  a small price to pay.

***

Dan Carter, who returned to live in Auckland with his family last year, hasn't been wasting his sabbatical. Carter recently flew to Los Angeles with wife Honor to attend several celebrity parties, including an Oscars bash where he mingled with some of Hollywood's biggest stars.

***

Luke Romano will play his 50th Super Rugby match for the Crusaders against the Rebels on Friday night. Kieran Read will reach the 100 milestone against the Hurricanes in Christchurch on March 28.

- The Press

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