Crusaders announce new-look 2020 Investec Super Rugby squad

Scott Barrett to Captain the side in 2020

Andrew Goodman replaces Ronan O’Gara as Backs Coach

 

The Crusaders squad for 2020 has been named, with a number of debutants in the side, and some familiar faces who will be named in the 38-man squad for the first time. 

 The official announcement of all five New Zealand Investec Super Rugby squads is live on Sky Sport this evening, and Head Coach Scott Robertson is in attendance to reveal his Crusaders team for Super Rugby’s 25th season. 

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 Robertson said: “This is an exciting new era for the Crusaders, and an opportunity for some talented young players to step up in the Super Rugby environment. We farewelled a number of highly experienced players and great men at the end of last season, who have set this year’s squad up to build on our success. It’s exciting to embrace a new chapter of Crusaders rugby, which starts with the naming of our squad tonight.”

Of the 12 new Crusaders, six players have progressed through the Crusaders Academy (Fergus Burke, Tom Christie, Inga Finau, Cullen Grace, Brodie McAlister, Dallas McLeod) and the group represents six provincial unions across New Zealand; Canterbury, Tasman, Otago, Waikato, North Harbour and Northland. Four players also have Super Rugby caps to their name already – Sevu Reece, Brodie McAlister, Isi Tuungafasi and George Bower were all capped during the 2019 season. 

“Crusaders fans will be familiar with wing Sevu Reece,” Robertson said. “He was our 2019 Rookie of the Year after joining the squad as an injury replacement and making the most of his opportunity at Super Rugby level. An exciting and instinctive player, we’re looking forward to welcoming Sevu back following his debut Rugby World Cup campaign with the All Blacks. 

“We also welcome front-rowers Brodie, Isi and George as full squad members this season. Brodie was a New Zealand Schools representative who, at just 22, has had to overcome some adversity with injury early in his career. He had some valuable game time for Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup recently and is a promising addition for us at hooker. 

“George Bower is another great addition to our squad having made a really meaningful contribution at prop in 2019. He’s an agile and skilful front rower, who can play either side of the scrum, and he’s a really popular team man as well so we look forward to giving him further opportunities with the Crusaders in 2020. 

“I coached Isi with the New Zealand Under 20 side back in 2015 and he’s a young prop who impressed us during his time here last season. He first represented Auckland at provincial level before making the move to Northland in 2018 for more opportunities, and it's great to have him return to Christchurch ahead of our 2020 campaign,” Robertson said.

Of the uncapped players joining the squad, there are four forwards and four backs. 

“Ethan Roots is a strong, abrasive loose forward/lock option for us, who had a brilliant Mitre 10 Cup season for North Harbour. We’re excited to unlock the potential in this promising East Coast Bays club representative,” Robertson said. 

“Sione Havili will also join our loose forwards as a powerful ball carrier and defender, who had his 2018 season cut short through injury but was superb in the Tasman Mako pack in 2019.

“Tom Christie and Cullen Grace complete our loose forward group for 2020 – both are former UC Championship players who represented New Zealand Secondary Schools’, Canterbury Under 19s, and the New Zealand Under 20 side. Tom has shown plenty of leadership qualities having captained the Under 20s, and Cullen impressed in his debut provincial season as a loose forward who has the ability to play lock.

“Fetuli Paea caps off a brilliant season for the Mako with Super Rugby selection. He has represented Tonga in both the sevens and 15’s game, is an explosive ball carrier, and gives us options with his ability to play a number of backline positions.

“Inga Finau took a year off from professional rugby in 2018 to pursue his studies, returned for Canterbury this season and impressed as a strong, physical ball carrier capable of making an impact in the midfield. He has big shoes to fill with the departure of some highly experienced midfielders, but Inga is a quality footballer and we can’t wait to see what he can do on the Super Rugby stage. 

“Completing our playing roster for 2020 are young backs Fergus Burke and Dallas McLeod, who made their debuts for Canterbury this season. Fergus was a member of the New Zealand Under 20 side this year, while Dallas was Vice-Captain of that team for the Junior World Championship in Argentina. At just 20 years of age, we believe both have great futures ahead of them, and we look forward to having all of our 2020 rookies assemble as part of our Crusaders squad for the pre-season in a couple of week’s time,” Robertson said. 

In the absence of Sam Whitelock in 2020, Robertson has also named a new Captain in Scott Barrett, and said the lock is a natural choice to lead the side in his sixth season with the Crusaders: “Scott has a phenomenal work ethic, and produces consistent performances for the Crusaders. He’s well-respected by his team mates as well as the coaching and management group, has great character and helps drive our team culture so we see him as a natural fit to Captain the side and congratulate Scooter on this exciting opportunity.”

The Crusaders squad will officially assemble to commence their pre-season on 28th November, with the All Blacks due to return in the New Year.

 

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*denotes player named in the Crusaders Investec Super Rugby squad for the first time

 

 

Andrew Goodman replaces Ronan O’Gara as Backs Coach

 

Tasman Mako Co-Coach Andrew Goodman will step in to the role of Backs Coach for the Crusaders in 2020, the position vacated by Ronan O’Gara at the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season. 

Goodman was part of the team’s 2018 and 2019 Investec Super Rugby successes, assisting with team defence and individual technical development. He joins Head Coach Scott Robertson, Forwards Coach Jason Ryan, and Scott Hansen, who replaces Brad Mooar as Assistant Coach. 

Goodman was a Tasman Mako representative and Captain, before playing overseas in both Japan and Ireland. He became Head of the Nelson College rugby academy in 2015, and has coaching experience with both the Crusaders Academy and Nelson College First XV. The 37 year-old has just completed his fourth season as part of the Tasman Mako coaching group, having joined as an Assistant Coach in 2016. Alongside Clarke Dermody, he led the side to their first Mitre 10 Cup title last month. 

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: “It’s fantastic to confirm Andrew Goodman in the role of Backs Coach, following his successful season with the Tasman Mako. Goody has been an important part of the Crusaders success over the past two seasons, and offers fantastic cohesion and consistency within our existing coaching group.”

Head Coach Scott Robertson added: “Goody is highly regarded within the club, the players respect him and respond well to his approach. He’s done an incredible job with us over the past two years and this is a great opportunity for him to step in as our Backs Coach going forward.”

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my time as part of the Crusaders, and value the opportunities I’ve had to learn in our world-class environment at Rugby Park,” Goodman said.  

“We have a fantastic group of backs here at the Club, including a number of emerging leaders who are set to step up in 2020, and a wealth of young talent who will get their opportunities on the Super Rugby stage. I have great connections with a number of these players through my work with Tasman and the opportunity to step in to the role of Backs Coach at Super Rugby level from 2020 is hugely exciting.”

An announcement confirming the addition of a fifth Crusaders coach for 2020 will be made in due course.