Crusaders tighthead prop, Michael Alaalatoa, has announced the 2021 Sky Super Rugby season will be his last in red and black, confirming today his plans to join Irish club, Leinster.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support the Crusaders have given me throughout my time in Christchurch, and it’s hard to believe I’ll be wrapping up my career here after six seasons with this team,” Alaalatoa said in announcing the news.
“I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of the best coaches and players in the world during my time, and it’s brought out the best in me as a player and as an individual.
“As hard as it will be to leave my Crusaders family at the end of the season, I’ve heard awesome things about Leinster and look forward to the next challenge in my rugby career. This is a chance to have an adventure with my young family in Dublin, and I’m really looking forward to getting over there and connecting with the club,” Alaalatoa said.
The 29-year-old first debuted for the Crusaders in 2016, becoming Crusader number 194 after two seasons with the Waratahs in Sydney. He represented Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup from 2015 to 2018, then made the move to Canterbury for the 2019 season, before returning to the Turbos for their 2020 campaign. He currently has 89 appearances for the Crusaders.
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson acknowledged Alaalatoa’s immense contribution over the past six seasons: “Mike has left his mark on our team, our culture and our scrum. He is a true professional who gets the best out of himself, and continues to get better.
“He’ll leave our team as a world class prop, and we’ll miss him, Kara and Parker, but we are determined to send him off on a successful note at the end of the 2021 season.”
Crusaders Forwards Coach Jason Ryan added: “I have seen Mikey grow so much, both as a player and a person, in the last four years. He’s contributed every week through having world class preparation. I will miss him, and wish him and his family all the best for their new journey.”
Alaalatoa represented Samoa at Under 20 level in the 2011 IRB Junior World Rugby Championship, and went on to be selected for Samoa at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He was named Captain of the Moana Pasifika side for their one-off match against the Maori All Blacks in December 2020.
Alaalatoa will leave New Zealand in August, linking up with Leinster following the Sky Super Rugby competition.