It came as a shock but an honour for Quinten Strange to be named Tour Captain for the Crusaders first foray into the UK and Ireland.
The 27-year-old lock has been a mainstay of the Crusaders since his debut in 2017, and leads the squad as they take on Munster and the Bristol bears in the pre-season Northern Tour.
“Very honoured to lead the team while we are on tour,” Strange said from Cork, Ireland.
“It’s a great bunch of lads and the support around me from other very experienced players has been great.”
He doesn’t see his role within the team changing while holding the captain moniker, he just wants to “nail his job and play well for the team”.
“There’s a group of players here with us with huge experience, making my job as captain a lot easier,” he said.
The team take on Munster on Saturday 3 February, Sunday morning New Zealand time, before travelling to Bristol to take on the bears next Friday 9 February, Saturday morning New Zealand time.
Strange was relishing the chance to take on two Northern Hemisphere sides, in front of big crowds and in unfamiliar venues.
“Yeah, very excited like the rest of the lads. Trips like this don’t come round very often, and it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves.
“It’s also an awesome way for our team to connect early in the season and enjoy some time in some pretty cool cities, play in front of some commited fans, and experience some amazing stadiums.”
Catch the game live on Sky Sport 2, kick-off Saturday 6am NZT