Nine newbies in Crusaders squad

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 11:44 31/10/2012
Crusaders Oct 31
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

NEWBIES: Codie Taylor, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Jordan Taufua, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Jimmy Tupou and Shane Christie have joined the Crusaders squad.

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Samoan international Jeremy Su'a is the surprise inclusion in the Crusaders squad today.

Su'a, 23, has been recruited as a backup to Canterbury halfbacks Andy Ellis and Willi Heinz after a string of impressive performances for 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 after the Super Rugby competition.

Su'a was a member of Samoa's World Cup squad last year.

Blackadder has named nine newcomers in his squad, including four members of this year's wider training group.

The four 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 been included.

Taufua, a controversial inclusion in the Canterbury reserves for the NPC playoffs after he was recalled from his loan duties with Tasman, will add depth to a 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 the 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.

With McCaw unavailable, there was a need to recruit a backup to openside flanker Matt Todd. This means Tasman No 7 Shane Christie, who was this week named in the Maori All Blacks team to tour Britain, is another newcomer.

Crusaders: 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.

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- The Press

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