International and returning legends, returning All Blacks and a new generation of talent– here’s your first look at the Crusaders squad for 2024, ready to pull on the jersey and make an impact for their club and their community.
But the Crusaders are so much bigger than the men given a jersey – the Crusaders are our members, our fans, our staff and our families. They’re the ones who come to kids’ days, who fill the stands in the cold and the rain, who live the Crusaders values each and every day.
So today we acknowledge not only those who take the field, but our entire Crusaders whanau. Our community, our unity, that’s what makes us stronger.
The 39-strong playing group is a mix of experience and fresh energy, with nine new contracted players ready to help defend a Super Rugby title for the eighth time in a row.
They’ll assemble at Rugby Park within weeks to prepare for the inaugural Crusaders Northern Tour in early February – two fixtures in the UK versus Munster and the Bristol Bears. The boys will then play the opening match of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific on Friday 23 February versus the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Scott Barrett will once again captain the side, with other leadership positions to be announced at a later date.
Fresh from Rugby World Cup 2023 France, our returning All Blacks are Will Jordan, David Havili, Ethan Blackadder, Scott Barrett, Fletcher Newell, Tamaiti Williams and Codie Taylor. This group represent not only a wealth of experience and maturity, but also leadership and guidance.
Tahlor Cahill, a product of the Crusaders Academy who fronted for the New Zealand U20s side on five occasions, has picked up a full contract alongside Jamie Hannah who played three for the Crusaders last season. Both play in locking positions.
Rivez Reihana brings speed and accuracy to the back line, joining Taha Kemara at first five. Since 2021 he’s played Super Rugby for the Chiefs and NPC for Northland.
Winger and Crusader #209 Manasa Mataele is back in the colours after spending the last two seasons with the Western Force. He’s a consistent starter for Canterbury in the NPC and has fronted for Fiji on four occasions, most recently in the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup.
Jone Rova has played in rep teams for years in and around the Crusaders, this year getting the nod to join the full squad. The midfielder played in the Crusaders Development XV at the start of the year, and played a role in the NZ U20s taking out the Oceania Under 20 Champs in Australia in July 2022.
Heremaia Murray joins the team, having impressed in his outings for Northland in the NPC. The 23-year-old outside back scored 11 tries from 21 games and will add depth and speed to the Crusaders backline.
Ryan Crotty – well, what is there to say – the legend returns to the red and black after four years away. He played a pivotal role in getting Canterbury to their finals berth in the 2023 NPC season, and his potential impact for the Crusaders in 2024 is tantalising to say the least.
Welsh centurion and international test star Leigh Halfpenny is bringing the family over from Wales and donning the jersey for the 2024 season in an exciting turn of events. His boot is famous around the world as is his speed on the ball and his clear voice on the field. At 34 years old, he’ll look to bring wisdom and teaching to the team – alongside his explosive on-field ability.
Additionally, Codie Taylor is taking a non-playing sabbatical for the majority of the 2024 Super Rugby season. He’s been away from home for an extended period recently and the Crusaders fully respect and support him taking this time.
Codie’s expected to be available for selection for the last few rounds of the ‘24 season.
A huge season ahead for the boys, for the fans and for the club as a whole. We can’t wait.