Digby Ioane to remain at Panasonic Wild Knights

Digby Ioane will not return to the BNZ Crusaders in 2018, opting to remain at his current Japanese Club, the Panasonic Wild Knights, instead.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said Ioane and the Crusaders had reached a mutual decision that staying in Japan was the best thing for him.

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Christchurch Boys’ High School will meet Timaru Boys’ High School in the UC Championship final at Straven Road (CBHS) this Saturday with kick-off set for 12noon. The UC Championship final will be live streamed this Saturday on the UC Cup & Championship Facebook Page, so make sure you tune in for all the action and live commentary from Rocky Roberts, Brendan Laney and Social Footy Show host Rykah Hadaway.  https://www.facebook.com/UCchampionshiip

Bryn Hall re-signs with BNZ Crusaders

Halfback Bryn Hall is sticking with the BNZ Crusaders, having re-signed for 2018.  

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Sanders returns and Samu re-signs with BNZ Crusaders

The BNZ Crusaders have locked in two more loose forwards for the 2018 season, with Pete Samu and Tom Sanders both committing to the team.
For Sanders it is a return to red and black, after spending the 2015 season in the Crusaders Wider Training Group and then signing to the Chiefs for the last two years.  Sanders said he is grateful for the opportunities that he got at the Chiefs, but joining the BNZ Crusaders is a return home.
“I grew up in Little River, played for Lincoln University, and started my professional career with the Canterbury provincial team, so there is no doubt that this is home.  I feel very fortunate to have been offered a contract with the Crusaders so that I can now live and play in the one place for the full year and represent the region where I grew up,” Sanders said.  “I have enjoyed my two years at the Chiefs and I will remain grateful to them for giving me the chance to start my Super Rugby career.”
Sanders is currently preparing for the upcoming provincial season with Canterbury, who he debuted for in 2014. The Banks Peninsula boy was a bolter into the NZ Under 20 squad that same year, attending only the final camp but making it to the team and becoming one of the standout forwards at the IRB Junior World Rugby Championship. He has also represented the New Zealand Universities team, played in the Lincoln High School first XV for three years and was part of the New Zealand Schools Academy.
Samu is re-signing to the BNZ Crusaders for a third season, having debuted in 2016 against the Blues.  He said he is excited about continuing with the successful side after playing a substantial role in the Super Rugby title win just ten days ago.
“I am loving playing in this team and there is no way I could turn down an offer to play here again next year after the season we’ve just had.  We have some awesome loose forward talent here at the BNZ Crusaders, and that keeps pushing me to be my best, so I know that this is the best place for me to keep learning and growing my game,” Samu said.
Samu is Melbourne born and did a stint in the Waratahs Wider Training Group before moving to New Zealand in 2014.  He played club rugby in Nelson, earning a call-up to the Tasman Makos later that year.  In 2015 the dynamic ball-runner was named the Player of the Year for the Crusaders Knights development team, and got called into the BNZ Crusaders squad towards the end of that season as injury cover. 
BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said the two loose-forwards would bring their own unique style to the squad, but what they shared was an awesome work ethic and some impressive power and speed.
“Pete Samu has an explosiveness and a flair factor that creates opportunities.  He has been huge for us this year and we look forward to seeing him continue to make his mark in 2018.  Tom Sanders was a midfield back until he converted to loose forward in his teens, and he still shows the speed of a back but also has a massive motor and a really gritty, tough element to him, which we love.  These are both players who we know we can rely on not only to perform their roles but to make the team better every time they play,” Robertson said.

Codie Taylor signs long-term deal with NZ Rugby and BNZ Crusaders

Talented young All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury hooker Codie Taylor has become the first All Black to sign a long-term contract with New Zealand Rugby, extending his contract through to 2021.

26-year-old Taylor, who’s currently in South Africa with the BNZ Crusaders preparing for the Investec Super Rugby Final against the Lions, said re-signing with New Zealand Rugby, the BNZ Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby was the best decision for him and his family.

“I feel like I am living the dream at the moment, raising my young family here in New Zealand and playing for these teams that I love, so recommitting through to 2021 just makes sense for me,” Taylor said.  “I am grateful to everyone who has shown faith in me and allowed me to get this far with my rugby career, and I want to continue repaying them by playing the best rugby I can here in New Zealand for a while yet.”

Born and raised in Levin, Taylor started his professional rugby career with Canterbury in 2012.  He was also part of the New Zealand Under 20 team which won the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship. He joined the BNZ Crusaders in 2013, however a run of injuries limited his opportunities initially. The powerful scrummager cemented a place over the following seasons though. An impressive 2014 season included three tries for Canterbury and an 89 percent tackle success rate in the provincial season, as well as selection in the Maori All Blacks and a try in Tokyo. He went from being the least experienced hooker in the Crusaders squad in 2015 to his All Blacks debut and a spot in the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad, following in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather, 1893 All Black Walter Pringle.

BNZ Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson describes Taylor as a uniquely skilled player and great team man: “You could put Codie pretty much anywhere on the field and he would perform his roles brilliantly.  He’s blessed with natural strength, speed and skills, but he works as hard as anyone to ensure he is at his best every time he takes the field. His unassuming nature and always positive attitude make him an absolute pleasure to coach and to have in the team environment. We have just celebrated Codie’s 50th Crusaders game, and with his re-signing to 2021 we will hopefully get to enjoy at least another 50 more.”

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "It’s exciting knowing that Codie has re-signed through to 2021, the first of our group to extend his contract that far. He's an outstanding young hooker and a key part of the future of the All Blacks so we congratulate him and his partner Lucy on the decision.  Codie’s worked hard and made outstanding progress since coming into the group in 2015, he’s taken his opportunities when they have come and really showed in his three starts in the recent Lions Series that he has the skillset and temperament to play at a world-class level."

Codie Taylor is the first All Black to commit through to 2021. Samuel Whitelock, All Blacks Vice-Captain Ben Smith and Anton Lienert-Brown are signed through to 2020, while All Blacks Captain Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Israel Dagg, Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith, Julian Savea, Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, Joe Moody, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Nathan Harris, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Squire, Liam Coltman and Ngani Laumape have all inked deals through to 2019.