Former Crusader Johnny Leo’o has been named as the Junior XV coach for 2022, leading an All-Star coaching group.
The Junior XV is made up of some of the most promising schoolboy players from the Crusaders region and are given the opportunity to hone their skills in a 3-day camp, before paying their counterparts from the Highlanders region.
Speaking of this year’s crop of players, Leo’o said
“This group really excites me and I'm looking forward to the next few weeks together. We are blessed with a very talented and exciting group of players accompanied with natural skill, power, speed and size. The players have been selected as a result of their individual performance during the Miles Toyota Championship. Looking forward to see growth, on and off the grass.”
These young players are fortunate to have a fantastic coaching group around them, with the likes of current Crusaders Mitch Dunshea and Joe Moody (assistant lineout coach and assistant scrum coach respectively) among a plethora of coaches with professional experience.
Leo’o counts himself lucky to have the opportunity to lead such a skilled and experienced group of coaches,
“It’s a real privilege to be a part of a vastly experienced coaching group that also includes some All Blacks and Crusaders. Every coach offers specialised expertise in different aspect/areas of the game. Our first couple of outings have been great, some coffees to get the ball rolling, but fair to say the players will appreciate a very talented and enthusiastic team of coaches . We are really excited about this campaign.”
Leo’o hopes his Junior XV will get valuable experience and insight from their time in camp, and hopefully move on to the next step in their rugby career,
“The goal is for all the players to enjoy and engage with the experience that we are able to provide. We want them to leave better players, equipped with a deeper understanding of what is required to make the step up into the big league.
If some of these players succeed into a Crusader or All Black jersey in the future, I can be proud to say, we helped them on their way.”
2022 Junior Crusaders Coaching List
Head Coach – Johnny Leo’o – Former Crusader, Canterbury U19 Coach, former St Thomas’s of Canterbury College First XV coach and current University of Canterbury Div 1 coach
Attack Coach – Matt MacDougall – Marlborough Boys College First XV Coach, Junior Crusaders coach (2020 and 2021), Crusaders U20 defence coach and Former Tasman U19 head coach
Defence Coach - Kieran Coll – Former professional player, former Christchurch Football Club Div 1 coach, Current St Thomas’s Canterbury College First XV coach, Current Canterbury U19 Defence Coach.
Simon Gunn – Scrum coach – St Bede’s College First XV coach, Kaiapoi Div 1 coach, Junior Crusaders coach 2021 and current forwards coach for Canterbury U19
Joe Moody – Assistant Scrum Coach – All Black, Crusaders and Canterbury player – currently rehabilitating from an ACL repair
Shane Fletcher – Lineout Coach – Former Rangiora HS First XV coach, Former Canterbury U19 defence and forwards coach, Current Crusaders International Academy Coach and current Crusaders team Manager
Mitch Dunshea – Assistant Lineout Coach - All Black, Crusaders and Canterbury player – currently rehabilitating from knee surgery
Backs Coach – Casey Laulala – Former Crusader and Canterbury player who played overseas for Cardiff, Munster and Racing 92, Assistant coach Canterbury NPC in 2021.