TEAM PREVIEW: The Crusaders

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The Christchurch-based club face the Hurricanes in their opening game on Sunday 21 June in the capital.

Some new innovations will be implemented, including golden point and the ability to replace players following a red card.

Existing laws at the breakdown will be applied more strictly to create faster attacking ball and a fairer contest. Ball carriers will be allowed only one dynamic movement after being tackled and tacklers will be expected to roll away immediately in the direction of the side-line.

It's an area the Crusaders have been focussing heavily on at training.

Scott Robertson’s side were top of the New Zealand conference before the break, having recorded just the one loss from six games. Although, that one loss came at the hands of the Chiefs in Hamilton in Round Two.

We can’t do a Crusaders preview without mentioning the return of Sam Whitelock. The former skipper was set to miss this year’s Super Rugby competition, while he played for the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan. But Covid-19 forced the cancellation of the Japan league and Whitelock was back in New Zealand. It’s a great boost for the Crusaders and he’ll link straight back up with skipper Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Quinten Strange and Luke Romano in the locking stocks.


Cullen Grace and Tom Christie were the talk of the town before the break. The former New Zealand Under 20’s forwards made the impressive step up to Super Rugby and seamlessly slotted into the professional environment. 20 year-old Grace is the youngest out of all the New Zealand squads and made every post a winner. Having played in all six of the Crusaders games, he made 31 carries, 118 metres and four clean breaks. 22 year-old Christie topped the charts for the most tackles pre Covid-19. He made 106 tackles, 18 more than Reds flanker Liam Wright. Throw in midfielder Dallas McLeod who had a solid debut performance and the Crusaders look to have yet again blooded some remarkable young talent.


Expect to see flanker Ethan Blackadder at some stage during Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. The 25 year-olds was back training just before lockdown, following a long shoulder injury layoff, where he underwent surgery. He’s been back training over the last couple of weeks and he’ll add more competition in the loose forward setup.


21 June: Crusaders v Hurricanes, Sky Stadium Wellington

28 June: Crusaders v Chiefs, Orangetheory Stadium Christchurch

4 July: Crusaders v Highlanders, Forsyth Barr Stadium Dunedin

11 July: Crusaders v Blues, Orangetheory Stadium Christchurch

25 July: Crusaders v Hurricanes, Orangetheory Stadium Christchurch

1 August: Crusaders v Chiefs, FMG Stadium Waikato

9 August: Crusaders v Highlanders, Orangetheory Stadium Christchurch

16 August: Crusaders v Blues, Eden Park


Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister, Codie Taylor, Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Joe Moody, Isileli Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Samuel Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Tom Christie, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili Talitui, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Ereatara Enari, Bryn Hall, Fergus Burke, Brett Cameron, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Dallas McLeod, George Bridge, David Havili, Inga Finau, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Fetuli Paea, Leicester Faingaanuku, Sevu Reece


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