Crusaders in tough warm ups

All Black lock Ali Williams will run out in the red and black of the Crusaders for the first time when the six-time Super Rugby Champions open their pre-season campaign with a classic clash against their rivals from across the Cook Strait, the Hurricanes, on 25 January.

The Canterbury Super 14 franchise’s preparations for their ’13th Crusade’ will also mark the return of Brad Thorn after playing Rugby League with the Brisbane Bronco’s.

Thorn adds an extra option at lock following the departure of Chris Jack at the end of the 2007 season.

The 32-year-old lock will make one final attempt at a Super Rugby title after being a losing finalist with the Crusaders in the 2003 and 2004 Super 12.

The Crusaders Super 14 preparations will include a trip across the Tasman Sea where fixtures against the Western Force and the Waratahs have been scheduled, which will give new recruits Kahn Fotuali’i (scrum-half) and Kade Poki (wing) an opportunity to test themselves against the best in the Southern Hemisphere.

Poki made an impression with the New Zealand Under-19 squad at the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) U/19 World Championships in Belfast earlier this year and will seek to build on that, while 24-year-old Fouali’i will get his first real chance to prove what he is capable of after an ordinary Air New Zealand Cup (ANZ) campaign.

The Crusaders’ pre-season dates and games are:

25 January: v Hurricanes, Motueka

2 February: v Western Force, Melbourne

7 February: v NSW Waratahs, Sydney

 

365 Digital

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