Canterbury have confirmed the signing of Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa from Manawatu ahead of their new Mitre 10 campaign.
Alaalatoa is one of seven new faces to join the squad which opens up in just under two weeks’ time and head coach Joe Maddock is delighted to welcome him on board.
“We are thrilled to have Crusaders prop Mike Alaalatoa join us this year. Mike has six seasons’ worth of experience at Super Rugby level, and his voice is going to be important among our young group of front-rowers. We’re glad he’s made the decision to base himself in Christchurch this season and look forward to seeing him in red and black,” he said.
With almost 70 caps to his name for the reigning three-in-a-row Super Rugby champions Alaalatoa brings a wealth of experience to the side.
Along with Alaalatoa, New Zeland U20 international playmaker Fergus Burke also joins. While the U20 vice-captain Dallas McLeod is also in the Canterbury squad for the first time.
There is a possibility that McLeod will be shifted out of his normal centre position to the wing in order to accommodate the likes of Tim Bateman, Ngane Punivai and possibly Braydon Ennor.
Versatile forward Cullen Grace and backs Sam Gilbert, Rameka Poihipi and Junior Ratuva are the other new arrivals to the squad.
Canterbury begin their campaign with a tough test against reigning champions Waikato on Saturday August 10th and will be captained by Luke Whitelock after he was omitted from the All Blacks squad.
Ex-All Black to Return to New Zealand
A former All Black is set for a sensational return to his homeland according to reports
Former All Black Adam Thomson is set to return to New Zealand with North Harbour on a short-term deal according to Stuff.
The 29-cap All Black is looking to regain some match fitness ahead of the new Major League Rugby season in which he will play for the Utah Warriors.
Thompson has been struggling for minutes on the pitch since spending almost three months in hospital during December 2017 and February 2018 due to lumbar discitis, an infection of the spine.
That infection left Thompson unable to walk, as he battled for a return to action for his team at the time, Japanese outfit the Canon Eagles.
The 37-year-old, who has played nearly 100 times in Super Rugby through stints with the Highlanders, the Reds and the Rebels and won the 2011 World Cup, has been continuing his remarkable recovery ever-since being hospitalised.
His deal with the US side was signed in April, but he didn’t play during their final five games of the regular season.
However, ahead of the 2020 season, Thompson could seek game-time with New Zealand side North Harbour for their upcoming Mitre 10 Cup season after playing for them last Saturday alongside current All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe.
It would be his first appearances in the competition since 2012 and would be another step in his incredible journey.
Blues Sign-Up Hurricanes Scrum-Half
The Blues have taken the chance to bring a Hurricanes scrum-half back home
The 23-year-old, who has played second-fiddle to Hurricanes and All Blacks TJ Perenara this year, will join Jonathan Ruru and Sam Nick at the franchise as both have extended their contracts.
Christie was born in Peebles in the Scottish Borders before moving on to Pukekohe with his family where he attended Saint Kentigern College.
From there he went on to represent Counties Manukau U19, then going to University of Canterbury and pushing on at club level, leading to a contract with Tasman Mako in 2016.
He went on to play for the Chiefs eight times during 2017 before a move to the Blues.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald previously managed Christie at Tasman, where he will remain playing Mitre 10 Cup rugby, and is delighted to have him on board.
“I was impressed with his skill set and attitude at Tasman and now he gets the chance to return home to play. Finlay will complement both Sam and Jonathan and give us three quality halfbacks all with different styles and different strengths. This will allow us to select a halfback that best fits the game plan each week,” he said.
Blues high performance general manager Tony Hawks is happy that the youngster has signed too and is excited to re-unite Christie and Nick, who played alongside one another at Saint Kentigern College.
“It is great to have a good mix of halfbacks, all now with experience and success at Mitre-10 Cup and Investec Super Rugby level. Sam has come through our system from the age grades and is now a senior player who has played a key part in the rise of Northland rugby, yet he is only 22 years old. He will reconnect with Christie after the pair played together at Saint Kentigerns. Jonathan has settled well with us since moving here last year and became a key part of the success for Auckland in the Mitre-10 Cup,” he said.
Christie will have competition for a place in the starting XV, but it is nice to see him return to his roots.
Ulster Add New Zealand Star to Their Ranks
Ulster have confirmed another massive signing with the latest one coming in from New Zealand
Faddes, who represented the Barbarians against Fiji at the Kingspan Stadium in 2016 has admitted that his visit three years ago had a part to play in his decision.
“Both Georgie (his wife) and I are looking forward to the experience of living and working in a new environment and the challenge that will provide. It’s exciting to consider the next chapter of my rugby career. When I visited in 2016, I was struck by the family, community feel to the club,” he said.
Although he has never been capped by the All Blacks he has represented the New Zealand Sevens team as well as the Barbarians.
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland is excited by his sides latest signing and can’t wait to see what he brings to the ever-improving side.
“Matt is a quality player who will bring a lot of experience, skill and creativity to our backline. He’s quick and has shown throughout his career the ability to beat defenders with his footwork and acceleration. His versatility will also be very important for us, meaning he is able to play various positions alongside our talented young backs. Matt is excited about moving over to Ireland and with his undoubted ability and strong worth ethic, I’m sure he’ll add a significant amount to our squad,” he said.
Faddes’ arrival is the fourth ‘big name’ signing of the summer already for the northern outfit who have already confirmed that Leinster prop Jack McGrath, Brumbies lock Sam Carter and Worcester prop Gareth Milasinovich will all be wearing white and red next season.
McFarland is delighted that the club is attracting such high-quality players and believes that with the mixture of them along with the younger players in the squad the future looks bright for Ulster.
“Jonny [Petrie], Bryn [Cunningham] and I feel that this year’s recruitment process has been very productive and it’s encouraging that we are able to continue to attract players of this calibre to Ulster. The new arrivals will bolster our squad depth for next season and increase competition for places in key areas. This, coupled with the experience gained by so many of our young players this season, bodes well for us moving forward,” he added.
The New Zealander has been playing for his native Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup since 2010 and representing the Highlanders also, scoring an impressive 19 tries in 43 appearances for the Dunedin-based side. Ulster are having an incredible summer so far in the transfer department and having reached the Pro 14 semi-finals already this season it will be interesting to see if they can push on even further next year.
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