Crusaders 2016 and 2017



  • Sigh. Another season over for the Crusaders, and another title has eluded us. It seems about this time every year for the majority of the last five years or so, it's been the same old strengths and weaknesses and I've had the same old thoughts and hopes for the following season. Can't say I expected much in 2016 though after the departures of all our playmakers plus McCaw, and with the sands of time ticking over for Ellis, a cloud over Dagg given recent seasons' performances, an ever-present injury cloud hanging over Freuan, doubts over McNicholls' potential to ever repeat his break-out 2012 NPC form, doubt about whether Mo'unga was going to step up immediately and concern around the quality of some of the back-ups in the backs such as Macilai, Fonotia and especially Volavola and McKenzie. The forwards were never going to be an issue, even without McCaw, and had parity at least against everyone until this morning, and in fact dominated most packs. My only concern was a lack of height if Whitelock wasn't available but we seemed to be fine during the times he wasn't on the pitch. Oh, and Tim Boys, but he was hardly seen.
     
    Well I have so say that several of those concerns were validated. Freuan got injured, Ellis looked slower at times and Volavola and McKenzie simply aren't good enough to be playing Super Rugby while Macilai is borderline and so is Drummond for that matter: I'm pleased Bryn Hall is coming and I'm sure he'll slot in as the #1 halfback immediately. Fonotia made some memorable breaks but also goes missing. However Dagg came back with a real fire in his belly (slightly doused after doing enough to make his way back into the All Blacks though), McNicholl had his best season for the Crusaders and Mo'unga stepped up (but his goalkicking really needs attention).
     
    Looking toward 2017, the only losses in the forwards that I'm aware of are Hodgman and Tupou heading to the Blues, but neither of these bothers me greatly as I'm sure we have the depth to cover for these departures. I would like to see another 2m + lock added to the rotation though to assist Whitelock, Romano and Barrett. Otherwise, any pack that can boast Franks, Moody, Crockett, Taylor, Romano, Whitelock, Todd and Read is going to more than hold it's own. Barrett is a real comer while Taufua is a ball of energy. A fit Reed Princep will add depth. In the backs, we lose the stalwart Ellis (he's been fantastic value since 2006 but leaves in the nick of time), Fonotia, McNicholl and Nadolo. I'm hopiong we'll also lose Volavola and McKenzie, but fear they're on two year deals. Macilai has re-signed so at least we retain one winger, albeit of dubious quality. The signing of Hall is important and I'm excited about the combination he could form with Mo'unga next year. It's just everything outside them that's worrisome. We certainly don't have a clear midfield combination. Crotty is high quality but needs help and to settle into a position. Havili'i is promising but I suspect his skillset at this stage of his career is better suited to the wing. The best thing that could happen for Razor and his Crusaders' outside backs is Dagg doesn't make the EOYT and therefore comes back hungry and keen again in 2017. Oh and it'd be really handy of he had the inside line on NZ rugby's Next Big Thing on the wing, through his U20 involvement. We may just have NZ Rugby's Next Big Thing at second-five to come through in Jordy Barrett, who I'm looking forward to seeing mix things up in the NPC. There's massive buzz around that kid: if he can live up to it and stays here, he may be the guy we build our backline around in years to come. Jack Goodhue is another youngster who could become a valuable asset to the Crusaders and is also due a break-out domestic season.
     
    So for the umpteenth season in a row, I lament our backline performances and particularly selections, but don't have any worries with the forwards, and look forward to seeing what Canterbury can bring to the table in the M10 Cup.



  • Watched Jordie Barrett play club footy yesterday shark. He basically won a very important semi final on his own. One that his team definately didn't deserve to win
    Huge prospect and will surely be starting in the crusaders midfield next year



  • Yes dissapointing season again. Its a pity that the rebuild post Carter/Mccaw was extended by a year by Blackadder staying.
    In the long run i think Nadolo leaving will actually benefit their back play because they will need to develop a plan other than give it to Nadolo as much as possible. Hopefully Macilai can develop with regular selection rather than coming in and out.
    Not going to get easier next year with the Blues potentially getting better and the other kiwi teams being strong.



  • As crusaders need to sign a wing for next season i wonder if they would have zac Guildford back?
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  • Personally I think someone like Ryan tongia or mason Emerson would be better
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  • I honestly think the issue with the Crusaders is coaching/leadership. Inbreeding replicates 95% of the DNA but also creates the odd defect.
    I'd rather the went for someone clearly talented but outside the Crusaders set up. Cotter obvious but even Penny is foreign to most by the point of nepotism must reign supreme.
    I don't doubt Rennie wins the title with this team if he were the coach.



  • As crusaders need to sign a wing for next season i wonder if they would have zac Guildford back?
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    No chance, I think.
     
    On the plus side, we have Freuan, Goodhue and Fifita on the books as midfield/outside backs even though we didn't get a minute out of any of them.
     
    Not sure quite what to do about Freuan - he seems to be extraordinarily injury prone and has limitations even when fit. He can at least break the line when he plays. We mainly need at least one decent midfielder to pair with Crotty and ideally it needs to a big Nonu-type. I hoped it might be Wainui, but he was a bit green and disappointing and not huge. Sammy suggested Goodhue was looking a lot bigger in club rugby.
     
    Crotty, Goodhue, Barrett, Wainui, Havili, Freuan.
     
    Fifita looked useful in the M10 Cup last year. Tongia might also be a useful pick up.
     
    Inside back pairing is a major challenge - I don't really see Hall being the answer. Hopefully Mo'unga continues to develop - one good thing Toddy did was settle on one first five and stick with him.



  • Personally I think someone like Ryan tongia or mason Emerson would be better
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    Hey! Stop suggesting Magpies for the Crusaders. 😉



  • As crusaders need to sign a wing for next season i wonder if they would have zac Guildford back?
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    God i hope not, they have already wasted enough time and money on him in the past.
    The crusaders would do well to try and pick up one of the Canes many midfielders/utilities. Someone like Proctor or Halaholo (who i hoped they woukd sign a few years back when he was good for Southland). Hopefully the npc throws up a good tackle breaking outside back somewhere and they can sign him up.



  • I may be wrong, but this Crusaders media release seems to suggest that all of Mo'unga, McKenzie and Volavola are on one year contracts: http://crusaders.co.nz/news/874-marty-mckenzie-completes-crusaders-first-five-roster-for-2016
    If correct, they only need to re-sign Mo'unga and find two others.
     
    I'm not 100% certain Romano has re-signed with the Crusaders. When the media reported in April that Romano had declined a Toulon deal, all the All Blacks website said was that he had chosen to stay in NZ. It didn't say that he had re-signed, with whom or for how many years (like their media releases usually state). The media quoted Blackadder however saying that he was staying "with us" (Crusaders). There's nothing on the Crusaders website to confirm his re-signing. Maybe still negotiating?
     
    Do the Crusaders have a 4th etc hooker? Taylor is the only quality hooker they have. Funnell seems to be getting bigger and slower, and Robinson has never been great. The situation at the Hurricanes shows how important a good 4th hooker can be, with Coles possibly injured, Matu'u injured and leaving, Apisai (injured?) and Riccitelli being a good up-and-coming backup (only had a contract as injury cover, so is free if not re-signed).
     
    I'm unsure about the contract status of Havili. How do you guys read this:   
    Tongia and Mason Emerson would be good signings. Jonah Lowe has been scoring his tries in club rugby as well (can play wing and centre). Have you guys seen Caleb Makene playing club rugby in Chch?
    Unlike Nepia, I don't care where Magpies/Bay players end up. The Canes tend to overlook them despite the Bay being in their catchment area, the Highlanders sign them but don't let them play, the Chiefs have been better than last year but they break them regularly, and the Blues hardly know where the Bay is. I just want good talent get Super Rugby contracts.



  • Here's a short list of players who may be free/not yet re-signed (my info is obviously not complete and may not be entirely up-to-date either):
     
    Barrett, Beauden (Hurricanes)
    Boys, Tim (Crusaders)
    Brown, Jed (Crusaders)
    Ellison, Tamati (Rebels)
    Evans, Gareth (Highlanders)
    Fruean, Robbie (Crusaders)
    Goodes, Reggie (Hurricanes)
    Graham, Mitchell (Chiefs)
    Guildford, Zac (Waratahs)
    Havili, David (Crusaders)
    Horrell, Andrew (Chiefs)
    Mathewson, Alby (Force)
    McKenzie, Marty (Crusaders)
    Mo’unga, Richie (Crusaders)
    Perry, Tim (Crusaders)
    Ranger, Rene (Blues)
    Romano, Luke (Crusaders)
    Shields, Brad (Hurricanes)
    Tamanivalu, Seta (Chiefs)
    Taylor, Codie (Crusaders)
    Toomaga-Allen, Jeffrey (Hurricanes)
    Volavola, Ben   (Crusaders)
    Wheeler, Joey (Highlanders)



  • Matt Moulds might be on th emarket at 2, and he came through the Crusaders academy when he was down there.



  • I may be wrong, but this Crusaders media release seems to suggest that all of Mo'unga, McKenzie and Volavola are on one year contracts: http://crusaders.co.nz/news/874-marty-mckenzie-completes-crusaders-first-five-roster-for-2016
    If correct, they only need to re-sign Mo'unga and find two others.

    Finding two others is probably the challenging bit.
     
    Front row - we need to find a better tighthead than Alaalatoa - preferably two. I'd cut one of Funnell or Robinson and try to identify a big, dynamic young up and comer to develop.
     
    Lock - we're OK - ideally find another big tall one.
     
    Loose forwards - Tupou is gone and I would cut Boys. Jed Brown looks a bit on the small side, as well. Pete Samu is a bit of a Taufua clone - so any or all of those three is expendable and if we can poach someone good from another NZ Super side and thereby weaken them, so much the better.
     
    Halfback we're in the shit. Hall, Drummond, Fukafuka. Let's hope someone puts their hand up, somewhere.
     
    First five: Mo'unga and probably keep Volavola - I'd probably cut Marty McKenzie. Let's hope Colin Slade hates Europe and wants to come back in 2018.
     
    Midfield - as I listed above. Havili was linked to a French club earlier - not the end of the world if he goes, but he's probably better as a fullback anyway.
     
    Wings - Macialai, Fifita and let's go shopping.
     
    Fullbacks: Dagg and Havili
     
    Let's hope Razor's got some good ideas.



  • You're not even going to back Tasman boy Mitchell Hunt?



  • You're not even going to back Tasman boy Mitchell Hunt?

    Forgot about him to be honest - he can be one of Razor's good ideas - the cupboard never sounds overstocked there!   🙂
     
    Mitchell Dunshea is floating around as a potential loose forward option as well (so is Princep, but he hasn't convinced me)..



  • How long did the Chiefs sign Sanders for?



  • The crusaders would do well to try and pick up one of the Canes many midfielders/utilities. Someone like Proctor or Halaholo (who i hoped they woukd sign a few years back when he was good for Southland).

    Halaholo has signed a 3-year deal with the Cardiff Blues and leaves after playing for Waikato in the NPC.



  • Front row - we need to find a better tighthead than Alaalatoa - preferably two. I'd cut one of Funnell or Robinson and try to identify a big, dynamic young up and comer to develop.

    Alaalatoa has just been re-signed for two more years. So stuck with him until the end of 2018 season



  • How long did the Chiefs sign Sanders for?

    Not sure, but he'd be better off staying up there getting regular gametime.



  • Here's a short list of players who may be free/not yet re-signed (my info is obviously not complete and may not be entirely up-to-date either):
     
    Barrett, Beauden (Hurricanes)
    Boys, Tim (Crusaders)
    Brown, Jed (Crusaders)
    Ellison, Tamati (Rebels)
    Evans, Gareth (Highlanders)
    Fruean, Robbie (Crusaders)
    Goodes, Reggie (Hurricanes)
    Graham, Mitchell (Chiefs)
    Guildford, Zac (Waratahs)
    Havili, David (Crusaders)
    Horrell, Andrew (Chiefs)
    Mathewson, Alby (Force)
    McKenzie, Marty (Crusaders)
    Mo’unga, Richie (Crusaders)
    Perry, Tim (Crusaders)
    Ranger, Rene (Blues)
    Romano, Luke (Crusaders)
    Shields, Brad (Hurricanes)
    Tamanivalu, Seta (Chiefs)
    Taylor, Codie (Crusaders)
    Toomaga-Allen, Jeffrey (Hurricanes)
    Volavola, Ben   (Crusaders)
    Wheeler, Joey (Highlanders)

    Well if that's accurate, we need to ensure we retain Mo'unga, Romano and Taylor (the future skipper, for mine). Ranger or Tamanivalu at centre would compliment Crotty perfectly in an ideal world. But I really don't envisage too much inter-franchise movement on that list.