Crusaders secure talent for 2016 Rugby season

The Crusaders have re-signed a number of their current Super Rugby players who come off contract at the end of this season, including All Blacks Wyatt Crockett and Ryan Crotty.

Crockett’s re-signing until the end of 2018 was announced earlier this week, and versatile midfield back, Ryan Crotty, has also signed up until the end of 2017.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said both players would play an important role in next year’s squad both on and off the field, as two of the senior members of the squad.

Joining Crockett and already contracted Owen Franks at prop again next season will be Tim Perry. Perry has had a frustrating season on the sidelines after an injury sustained in the 2014 ITM Cup semi-final, however Blackadder said he is a quality player who is getting back to his best and he is sure that he’ll be ready to make an impact in 2016.

Codie Taylor, who has impressed at hooker this year, will also return in 2016. Blackadder said he had made strides in his set-piece skills this season and his attacking abilities give him an exciting edge.

Young lock Scott Barrett will return in 2016 after being catapulted into the starting line-up at just 21 years of age and holding his own alongside All Black locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano. Blackaddder said he had more than proved himself and the Crusaders were excited about the future for Barrett.

Experienced halfback Andy Ellis and relative rookie Mitchell Drummond will continue to compete for the starting halfback spot in 2016.

Blackadder said Drummond had come a long way over the 2015 season and was starting to show his exceptional potential. He said Ellis continues to be a player of class and his experience and leadership will be vital next year.

Dynamic outside back Robbie Fruean will return in 2016, determined to show more of the flair that we saw in the few games he was able to play this season.

Fruean had his season cut short by a fractured arm sustained in the third round, but made an impressive return from injury to assist his team to wins against the Hurricanes and Blues recently. Blackadder said he had made an immediate impact when he returned to play and he looks forward to seeing him inject more of that power and punch into the Crusaders backline next season.

The Crusaders have also announced that three players in this year’s Wider Training Group will be promoted to the full squad in 2016 – utility back David Havili, five-eighth/fullback Richie Mo’unga and loose forward Jed Brown.

Blackadder said Havili had been one of the most impressive players for the Crusaders this season. He said his skills and confidence on the field defy his age and he is excited about working with him again in 2016.

Richie Mo’unga has been making a name for himself since he was playing schoolboy rugby as an up and coming talent, and Blackadder said he is bound to have the opportunity to really make his mark in 2016 with experienced first-fives Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Tom Taylor and Tyler Bleyendaal all playing offshore.

Jed Brown is another player who has had a frustrating 2015 hampered by injury, but will be rearing to go in 2016. Blackadder said Brown is a hard-worker with the potential to be an outstanding loose-forward in the mould of Matt Todd. He has spent a couple of years in the Wider Training Group and Blackadder believes he is ready to step up and impress in 2016.

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