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Mitre 10

Crusaders Prop Among Seven Canterbury Signings

Canterbury have announced the arrival of seven new players ahead of their Mitre 10 campaign

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(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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.

International

All Black Ready to Return to Action

One of the All Blacks key men is set to make a long-awaited return to play ahead of the All Blacks squad announcement

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(Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

All Blacks centre Ryan Crotty is set to line-out for Canterbury this weekend as he makes a long-awaited return from injury.

Crotty injured his thumb during the Crusaders’ 30-26 Super Rugby semi-final victory over the Hurricanes back in June and has been out of action since.

However, the 30-year-old is to play for Canterbury against Southland in the Mitre 10 Cup this Saturday as they look for their first win of the season.

The only worry for Crotty is that All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is announcing his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup tomorrow, which is obviously before Crotty officially returns to play.

It is undoubted that if Crotty was not injured, he would have walked into the squad, but it is reported that Hansen will bring four centres from five available.

The competition is stiff with Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape fighting Crotty for a spot. It is believed that it is between Laumape and Crotty are up against one another for the fourth place as Laumape has put together a sensational run of form of late.

Whatever happens, the 44-cap All Black will depart for Japan come the conclusion of World Cup but tomorrow will decide if he will be heading to Japan a little early for what would most likely be his final global tournament with his country.

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Mitre 10

Ex-All Black to Return to New Zealand

A former All Black is set for a sensational return to his homeland according to reports

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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.

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Mitre 10

Blues Sign-Up Hurricanes Scrum-Half

The Blues have taken the chance to bring a Hurricanes scrum-half back home

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The Blues have confirmed the signing of Tasman and Hurricanes scrum-half Finlay Christie ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

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.

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