Crusaders 2017



  • Still a while away but im interested in what the 2017 Crusaders might look like.
    The Blues seem to have made lots of signings already and other teams seem fairly settled with the odd new signing.
    Other than Hall and Goodhue have the Crusaders made any new signings to fill the holes from guys leaving/not being up to it?
    There issues seem to be in the backs mainly with the forward pack being impressive.
    Losing guys like Fonotia, McNichol and Nadolo is probably a positive IMO. The first too because they weren't that good and Nadolo because it should force them to come up with something other than "give it to Nadolo" ball. Missing out on Barrett MkII was a blow obviously but there should be some other promising guys available.

    Not sure if Fruen will be back but i would be tempted to sign him one last time and use him as a winger to provide some punch, which he appears to still have plenty of playing for Hawkes Bay. Would be having a look at Tongia and Jonah Lowe from Hawkes bay too depending on what their contract status is. What about the Tasman winger Faingaanuku? Seems to get talked up a bit and has looked decent the couple of times i've seen him play.

    I haven't caught many of the Canterbury games so far so can't comment too much. What are the thoughts of those in the know/ those who care?



  • Fruean is following Blackadder to Bath.

    We're need to sign some wingers - so far it's Jone Macali and Digby Ioane. David Havili will probably end up there from time to time if Crotty and Goodhue form a good midfield combo.

    I'd be happy with signing Jonah Lowe and potentially Nathan Earle. Faingaanuku should be signed on a wider contract.



  • @Wurzel said in Crusaders 2017:

    I'd be happy with signing Jonah Lowe and potentially Nathan Earle. Faingaanuku should be signed on a wider contract.

    Lowe looked good last night. Agree on Faingaanuku - he might end up being very good, but he's still very raw and with some way to go. There's not many at Tasman available to sign that are worth signing.

    Makalio might be worth a shot at hooker - he's got some issues with his lineout throwing, but there's a shortage of good targets in the Tasman lineout. He's got good size about him and a bit of mobility - could probably be fitter.

    I've quite liked the look of Ethan Blackadder in a couple of cameos - might be worth a WTG slot.

    I'd like to see Shannon Frizzell play some blindside to see whether he's up to it - supposedly he's a loosie who can cover lock, but I think he's only had about 10 minutes against Canterbury at 6 (before getting injured). Like Makalio, he's got good size (for a blindside, not a lock).

    I suppose Razor could look at Quinten Strange, Vern Fredericks and Finlay Christie, but I don't think any of them will be world beaters.



  • From what I read, Natahan Earle wants to go back to Saracens. Maybe they could go for Sevu Reece? The kid looks a real talent.



  • @African-Monkey said in Crusaders 2017:

    From what I read, Natahan Earle wants to go back to Saracens. Maybe they could go for Sevu Reece? The kid looks a real talent.

    The article I read where he was interviewed the other day said he plans to go back to Saracens but if a Super Rugby opportunity arose then he'd re-assess his plans.



  • @Chris-B. said in Crusaders 2017:

    @Wurzel said in Crusaders 2017:

    I'd be happy with signing Jonah Lowe and potentially Nathan Earle. Faingaanuku should be signed on a wider contract.

    Lowe looked good last night. Agree on Faingaanuku - he might end up being very good, but he's still very raw and with some way to go. There's not many at Tasman available to sign that are worth signing.

    Makalio might be worth a shot at hooker - he's got some issues with his lineout throwing, but there's a shortage of good targets in the Tasman lineout. He's got good size about him and a bit of mobility - could probably be fitter.

    I've quite liked the look of Ethan Blackadder in a couple of cameos - might be worth a WTG slot.

    I'd like to see Shannon Frizzell play some blindside to see whether he's up to it - supposedly he's a loosie who can cover lock, but I think he's only had about 10 minutes against Canterbury at 6 (before getting injured). Like Makalio, he's got good size (for a blindside, not a lock).

    I suppose Razor could look at Quinten Strange, Vern Fredericks and Finlay Christie, but I don't think any of them will be world beaters.

    Quinten Strange is 1.99m in the Makos website. He doesn't look that tall. it might be a bit exaggerated. However, he is a good prospect IMO.



  • How long was Sione Fifita contracted for? He isn't looking in great form at the moment but the potential to light his fire is still there.



  • @cgrant Yeah - I looked that up just the other day and thought it looked a bit taller than reality. Makos lineout is really struggling - especially when Ainley was gone.

    Crusaders will already have Whitelock, Romano and Barrett on the books - so they only need one lock/blindside to replace Jimmy Tupou - and possibly one WTG lock. Question is - is Strange the best available this year? At 1.99 metres is he a good long term investment? I reckon future elite locks will need to be a couple of inches taller - e.g. Retallick and Whitelock are 2.04 and 2.03.



  • Completely forgot about the Digby Ioane signing. Is Volavola back next year? That has to be one of the worst signings in recent NZ super rugby history.



  • Yeah I'd be very happy if we simply told Volavola to leave, and played with one less player for the year. He consistently has a negative impact on games. He's a charge down magnet due to the fact that he has the slowest kicking action in Super Rugby.



  • I'm a little disappointed McNicholl is moving on. He was just beginning to mature as a player and has got stronger to withstand the physicality of Super rugby. Plus he does have some wheels and a knack from bouncing out of tackles.

    I'll be holding my breath with Macalai. Last year he was basically on par with Tuitavake....

    As maligned as he is, Fonotia is a good squaddie. I'm looking forward to Crotty and Goodhue.

    Havili needs another strong preseason. He started the season pretty well I thought but then faded badly. That says he hasn't got the engine right now. I wouldn't mind seeing him on the wing working in tandem with Dagg.



  • you guys broke Macilai, he's not been the same since his 2014 season with us 😉



  • I thought Macilai looked good when he had a run of games while nadolo was out but struggled off the bench/starting one off games. I reckon if he gets a bit of faith to start the season he'll come right.



  • @ACT-Crusader Yeah - McNicoll has had easily his best Super season and looks like he belongs there now. He's certainly got stronger. This time last year I wouldn't have been bothered in the slightest if he'd buggered off, but now it's quite disappointing.

    Fonotia would be a good guy to have hanging around the squad - he's a big lump of a lad who can fill a gap for a few weeks - he's just a bit too leaden footed to be the main man at centre for a season.

    Havili - needs work. I'm not sure he's big enough - and he's certainly not yet a good enough defender - to be paired with Mo'unga.

    With the caveat that I've only seen bits and pieces of Canterbury this season, I've yet to see Goodhue do anything sensational that leads me to think he's the answer to our prayers at centre. I've seen Rob Thompson breaking the line and looking very useful, but Jack's seemed pretty quiet whenever I've been watching. You guys seem to be more impressed than me, so perhaps I've missed his starring turns. Perhaps he'll do it tonight!



  • Thought Goodhue was pretty good tonight. The run he made to set up the try was quality.



  • Goodhue is class, a natural 13 and I'm glad he's staying. Think he was a more important signing than Barrett.



  • Yeah - Goodhue had a pretty good game against Waikato - error free and lots of good stuff - though still not the sort of dominant line-busting performance that I think really stamps someone who's going to be a blockbuster at Super rugby level.

    I hope the reports are right that Razor has Tamanivalu lined up. It will also be nice to see the Crusaders picking off one of Rennie's men for once. 🙂



  • @Chris-B.

    Goodhue reminds me of Conrad Smith, silky skills and a great eye for his support player... not every midfielder has to be of the Nonu/SBW type.

    He also has a good kicking game and has been very accurate on defense this year.



  • Haven't yet seen Goodbye, but who's the under 19 fella? Looked classy as in the highlights i saw. Some kinda mix between Connie and BFA.



  • @SammyC Yeah - but, that's what people are saying about Crotty, as well. I think we need a Nonu-type in midfield - especially to replace Nadolo - but, even more useful if the line is being broken in midfield rather than one flank.

    Anyway, if we end up with Crotty, Tanmanivalu, Goodhue, Wainui and Havili we'll have some options - plus Ioane, Macilai, Fifita and Dagg as the outside back complement?

    Then Hall, Drummond, Fukafuka, Mo'unga, Volavola, McKenzie? I wouldn't mind losing half of those!!! Isn't Colin Slade sick of France yet? 🙂



  • @Chris-B. said in Crusaders 2017:

    @SammyC Yeah - but, that's what people are saying about Crotty, as well. I think we need a Nonu-type in midfield - especially to replace Nadolo - but, even more useful if the line is being broken in midfield rather than one flank.

    Anyway, if we end up with Crotty, Tanmanivalu, Goodhue, Wainui and Havili we'll have some options - plus Ioane, Macilai, Fifita and Dagg as the outside back complement?

    Then Hall, Drummond, Fukafuka, Mo'unga, Volavola, McKenzie? I wouldn't mind losing half of those!!! Isn't Colin Slade sick of France yet? 🙂

    Yeah people do say that about Crotty, although I'm not sure he is that similar.

    The All Blacks have played him pretty close to the ruck, coming back on the angle or running the decoy so they can shift it wide. And nobody seems that keen to play him at 13.

    Smith and Goodhue are different IMO, they operate in the wider channels and look to run into space and set up their outsides.

    I'm pretty excited about Tanmanivalu coming though, definately needed some pace and size in our backline.



  • I'm pretty sure Goodhue played some wing for the NZ U20s so I wouldn't be surprised to see him start out his Super Rugby career there - with Crotty and Seta in the midfield. The key for the Crusaders will be if their halves can deliver (feels like i'm typing about my Blues).



  • @KiwiMurph said in Crusaders 2017:

    I The key for the Crusaders will be if their halves can deliver (feels like i'm typing about my Blues).

    1 Important difference, we've got a tight five that works hard and gives consistent quality ball 😉



  • @SammyC Haha yes well Blues have done some beefing up in that area (including Alex Hodgman from the Crusaders and Pauliasi Manu). It will be interesting to see how Bryn Hall goes behind that Crusaders pack.



  • Quite like the Tamanivalu signing. It does look like we're suddenly over stocked in the midfield though and lacking out wide so I agree it wouldnt surprise to see Goodhue (also has a 7s background but just a pup at centre at this level) and/or Havili'i get games out wide. Not ideal but if we do actually have some punch finally in midfield then it's only finishers we need out wide to compliment Macilai on the other wing. We're going to miss OCAFABJM though, as he's in career best form this year. I'd be looking to squeeze George Bridge into the squad as genuine wing/fullback cover and get rid of Ben vol au vent altogether as he's just not up to it.



  • @shark said in Crusaders 2017:

    Quite like the Tamanivalu signing. It does look like we're suddenly over stocked in the midfield though and lacking out wide so I agree it wouldnt surprise to see Goodhue (also has a 7s background but just a pup at centre at this level) and/or Havili'i get games out wide. Not ideal but if we do actually have some punch finally in midfield then it's only finishers we need out wide to compliment Macilai on the other wing. We're going to miss OCAFABJM though, as he's in career best form this year. I'd be looking to squeeze George Bridge into the squad as genuine wing/fullback cover and get rid of Ben vol au vent altogether as he's just not up to it.

    If they don't keep Volavola, are Mo'unga and McKenzie the only players who can play 10, or do the Crusaders have more players who can cover that position? I'm not talking about goal kicking.



  • @Stargazer said in Crusaders 2017:

    If they don't keep Volavola, are Mo'unga and McKenzie the only players who can play 10, or do the Crusaders have more players who can cover that position? I'm not talking about goal kicking.

    Mitch Hunt. But he's mainly been at fullback for Tasman this season



  • Forgot about Mitch in my list of players. He's been going alright at fullback too - in a sort of Damien McKenzie way. His stats suggest he's a little bit bigger than Damien, but not much. Seems to have similar speed and good bravery on defence. Not quite the same elusive skills.

    If I recall correctly both he and Damien played first five in the Waikato-Tasman game.

    I'd think Mitch has more long term upside than either Volavola or Marty McKenzie, so we could probably afford to lose one of those two.



  • Also posted in the Super Rugby news thread:

    David Havili has re-signed with the Crusaders through to 2019 (3 years)

    http://crusaders.co.nz/news/1024-havili-re-signs-with-bnz-crusaders-through-to-2019



  • not sure about this whole need a big midfielder argument. skill is more important than size and the right little midfielders can do the job if they're put in space and not just having the ball shovelled to them against a set defensive line - it's more the shitty side to side gameplan that has to go.



  • @reprobate said in Crusaders 2017:

    not sure about this whole need a big midfielder argument. skill is more important than size and the right little midfielders can do the job if they're put in space and not just having the ball shovelled to them against a set defensive line - it's more the shitty side to side gameplan that has to go.

    And hopefully it is with Toddy's departure.

    Complementary skills in the midfield is what's important. On the face of it I think Crotty could be partnered with a number of different players.



  • There will be nine new faces in the Crusaders squad in 2017, and the return of one familiar face.

    Scott Robertson has this morning announced his first squad as the Crusaders Head Coach, and said he could not be more excited about the potential in this group.

    "Within the squad of 38, we are boasting five players who have played more than 100 games for this team (as well as Israel Dagg on 99 Super Rugby caps and Matt Todd on 94). We have eleven players currently away with the All Blacks, and a further six players about to represent either the Maori All Blacks or Barbarians teams. That is a wealth of experience and talent that we are blessed with here, and we are complementing that with some incredibly exciting raw talent in 2017," Robertson said.

    Of the ten new Crusaders in 2017, four are in the forwards. Prop Oliver Jager makes the step up to Super Rugby after an impressive debut season with the Canterbury provincial team. Hailing from Ireland originally, Robertson said Jager has a great story to tell about his journey to Super Rugby: "Oli first came to New Zealand at his own expense to attend a six week course at the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, straight after high school. He enjoyed the experience so much that he opted to return the following year, and that led to an offer of a spot in the Crusaders Academy. He had a strong debut season for the Canterbury team this year and, at just 21 years of age, is showing potential in spades."

    The Crusaders' new hooker is Andrew Makalio from Tasman. Makalio has represented Auckland in every age-group from under-15s to Auckland B, but shifted to Tasman in 2016 to try his luck and, with a 120kg frame and some incredible power and pace, it did not take long for him to be noticed.

    "This guy has got everything going for him and has the potential to be a real star. He is a really exciting addition to our trio of hookers and I am looking forward to helping him develop in this team," Robertson said.

    Another new player out of the Tasman camp is lock Quinten Strange. Strange was Nelson College 1st XV Captain in 2014 and also made the NZ Secondary Schools side. He was selected in the NZ Under 20 team this year, and off the back of some impressive performances there earned selection in the Tasman provincial team.

    "I got to see first hand how impressive Quentin can be when I worked with him in the NZ Under 20s. He has been prominent for Tasman in his debut season and is showing all signs of being another excellent Crusaders lock," Robertson said.

    Adding to the loose forward stocks this season is Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, a stalwart of the Manawatu Turbos. Robertson said he will bring some valuable experience to the group: "Heiden has been on the provincial scene for a while now, but we want to give him the chance to show he has got what it takes at Super Rugby level too. We know that he has some great skills and the work ethic to make this opportunity count."

    Three of the new backs for 2017 have previously been announced - Bryn Hall at halfback, Seta Tamanivalu in the midfield and Digby Ioane on the wing. Joining them as new faces in the backline are two exciting young outside backs and one returning face.

    Tim Bateman, who played for the Crusaders from 2007 - 2010 and then the Hurricanes from 2012 - 2014, returns to his red and black roots to add some experience in the backs. Robertson said his versatility and leadership will be a great asset to the team: "We are stoked to have Tim back in the mix, and know that there is a lot he can add in a variety of positions. He will slot in seamlessly and provide some great leadership for our younger backs."

    Earning a spot in the squad off the back of an impressive provincial campaign is Canterbury speedster George Bridge. Bridge has made his way through the Canterbury age grades, playing for the Canterbury Under 18 team, the 2014 Canterbury Under 19 Player of the Year, and a member of the 2015 New Zealand Under 20 squad, and is a graduate of the Crusaders Academy.

    "George is a talented young player who knows how to score tries. He scored a double when he played his first pre-season game for the Crusaders last year, and scored five tries in eight games for Canterbury this provincial season. He is another player brimming with potential and we are excited to help him develop his natural talent," Robertson said.

    The final new face in the 2017 Crusaders squad is explosive young winger, Manasa Mataele. Mataele will make the move from Taranaki to the BNZ Crusaders with his uncle, Seta Tamanivalu.

    "Seta and Manasa both have incredible abilities and it is awesome to be bringing them into the squad together. We can see a massive amount of natural ability and talent in Manasa that is ready to be unlocked. He is only 19 so has some time to develop, but I predict he will become a well-known name in New Zealand rugby within the next few years," Robertson said.

    "I am delighted with the squad we have named today. I believe we have the ideal mix of experience and emerging talent, and a brilliant balance of skills across the park. I cannot wait to get started with the 2017 group and with the new coaching group of Brad Mooar, Leon MacDonald, Jason Ryan and myself."

    CRUSADERS SQUAD
    PROPS

    Michael Alaalatoa

    Wyatt Crockett

    Oliver Jager

    Joe Moody

    Tim Perry

    Owen Franks

    HOOKERS

    Ben Funnell

    Andrew Makalio

    Codie Taylor

    LOCKS

    Scott Barrett

    Luke Romano

    Quinten Strange

    Sam Whitelock

    LOOSE FORWARDS

    Heiden Bedwell-Curtis

    Jed Brown

    Mitchell Dunshea

    Kieran Read

    Pete Samu

    Jordan Taufua

    Matt Todd

    HALFBACKS

    Mitchell Drummond

    Leon Fukofuka

    Bryn Hall

    FIRST FIVE-EIGHTHS

    Tim Bateman

    Marty McKenzie

    Richie Mo'unga

    MIDFIELD BACKS

    Ryan Crotty

    Jack Goodhue

    David Havili

    Seta Tamanivalu

    Sean Wainui

    OUTSIDE BACKS

    George Bridge

    Israel Dagg

    Sione Fifita

    Mitchell Hunt

    Digby Ioane

    Jone Macilai

    Manasa Mataele



  • It worthwhile reading the squad guides. Just started reading the Crusaders guide and read this about Jone Macilai:

    Frustratingly for Macilai, he will be rehabbing for much of this season. It is disappointing that we will miss out on his pace and power on the field, but there is still so much that he can add to the group from off the field with his fantastic personality. Looking forward to seeing him back in the game as soon as possible.
    

    http://files.allblacks.com/comms/2016-ISR/2017_ISR_Squad_Naming_Crusaders-PUBLISHED-01.pdf



  • He missed the final game of the M10 Cup, but as with the poor information coming out about our team, didn't even know it was that serious.



  • So gone from last year are:

    Alex Hodgman (replaced by Jager)
    Ged Robinson (replaced by Makalio)
    Jimmy Tupou (replaced by Strange)
    Tim Boys (replaced by Bedwell-Curtis)
    Andy Ellis (replaced by Hall)
    Ben Volavola (replaced by Bateman)
    Kieron Fonotia (replaced by Tamanivalu)
    Robbie Freuan (replaced by Mataele)
    Nemani Nadolo (replaced by Ioane)
    Johnny McNicholl (replaced by Bridge)

    Hodgman was pretty useful, but last year Toddy had four looseheads and only two tightheads, so this is more balanced.

    Ged Robinson barely played, so getting a young guy on the way up as the third hooker is probably the way of the future now Taylor is well established. Strange for Tupou probably the same case.

    Can't say I know much about Bedwell-Curtis, but I wasn't a big fan of Boys. A bit surprised Razor hasn't signed Billy Harmon.

    Andy Ellis had reached his use-by date. I guess there's a likelihood of a signed contract keeping Fukofuka in the squad and Enari out? I would have switched them without question otherwise. Very surprised Enari hasn't appeared elsewhere - hopefully Razor has told him to bide his time.

    Volavola out - I daresay not many tears shed by many supporters - Bateman in. Meh - I supp0se we need three first fives and it's got to be an upgrade (hopefully keeping Colin Slade's place warm for 2018). Hopefully, we'll see Hunt playing ahead of both Bateman and McKenzie and doing better than either.

    Nadolo and McNicholl will be missed - Fonotia and Freuan, not so much - Tamanivalu an evident upgrade and Robbie was pretty much a foodbill - though I can't say I've noticed Mataele at all.



  • @Chris-B. Fukofuka was offered another one-year contract before the end of the 2016 regular season.

    Midfield looks a lot more balanced. Outside backs should be better. Questions over 9 and 10, and loose forward depth.



  • Stuff says Enari will be training with the Crusaders as injury cover for Mitchell Drummond



  • Signing Volavola was one of the strangest moves I have seen in a while. Not surprised it didn't pan out. I think the Crusaders have recruited well - just depends how dangerous their backline can be without Nadolo.



  • @Chris-B. As @Tim said, Fukofuka had already been re-signed (on 11 May to be precise). For 2 seasons, so through to 2018.

    "Andy Ellis had reached his use-by date" sounds rather negative, as if Razor didn't offer him a contract. Ellis decided to retire from SR last year, so it was his choice, not a coach's decision. Ellis was the best of the 2016 Crusader halfbacks and not sure whether Hall is a good enough replacement. But the other two are probably worse.

    Bedwell-Curtis had a good season for the Turbos. Not a bad signing and more experienced than Billy Harmon.



  • I was an Andy Ellis fan, but I think he probably had perfect timing. Definitely our best last season, but the gap between him and the other NZ franchise halfbacks looked to be widening and another year wasn't going to help that.


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