Cruden Set for Possible Super Rugby Return
Aaron Cruden could be set for a Super Rugby return following confirmation of the details of his latest Montpellier contract
Aaron Cruden could be on the way back to Super Rugby after Montpellier confirmed that his latest contract will expire on November 18th.
The former All Black has been at the French giants since 2017 but has suffered an injury plagued spell at the club and his newest deal will see him become World Cup cover while the club’s stars feature in the tournament.
Vern Cotter’s side have also confirmed they have agreed a similar deal with former Springbok star Jannie du Plessis, who has been at the club since 2015.
“Aaron Cruden, a New Zealand international who joined the club in 2017, will stay in Montpellier during the World Cup season. Jannie du Plessis, an international Springbok at the club since 2015, will also be hired as a World Cup joker. In parallel, he will continue to carry out his missions within the training centre,” they said in a club statement.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding Cruden’s future over the past few months with links to Bath, Glasgow and a return to New Zealand the most common.
However, with his new contract a return to New Zealand would appear the perfect switch as the Super Rugby season doesn’t kick-off until the new year meaning he could finish his time in Montpellier before linking up with a new club.
The most obvious destination is the Hurricanes, who have recently lost Beauden Barrett to the Blues and have a big void to fill. However, a move to any Super Rugby side would make sense but if Cruden impresses and stays injury free during his spell as a joker he could be asked to continue on in France.
O’Connor, Annan to start in Reds Suncorp Stadium return
The Queensland Reds have made three changes to their starting XV ahead of this Sunday’s Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific Round 4 clash against the Fijian Drua.
In what will be Queensland’s first appearance at Suncorp Stadium in 2023, James O’Connor will return to the starting side at flyhalf after making a successful comeback from injury via the bench, while Taj Annan will make his first Super Rugby start at inside centre.
Jock Campbell will also return to the run-on team at fullback, with the Queensland forward pack remaining unchanged after last week’s narrow loss to the Brumbies in Canberra.
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’re excited to be back at Suncorp this week. We love playing in front of our Queensland fans.
“The Drua are coming off a memorable win in Fiji. They’re a great attacking team and can hurt you from anywhere on the field.
“It should be a great afternoon with some fast, attacking Rugby on display.”
Campbell’s return to the number-15 jersey sees Jordan Petaia shift to the wing to partner Filipo Daugunu out wide, while Suliasi Vunivalu is set to provide firepower off the bench.
Annan will pair with Josh Flook in the centres after Hunter Paisami was ruled out with concussion.
Co-captain Tate McDermott and James O’Connor will reprise their partnership in the halves, while fellow skipper Liam Wright, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson make for a settled backrow trio.
Seru Uru will look to recreate his heroics in last year’s fixture, with the lock scoring a crucial try and snatching a lineout steal in the final minutes to secure the win over the Drua in 2022. He’ll combine with Ryan Smith in the second row.
Dane Zander, Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr start in the front row in what will be Queensland’s second fixture against the Drua in Super Rugby Pacific.
The competition will celebrate its inaugural ‘Kids Round’ this weekend, with youngsters set to flood Suncorp Stadium for the family-friendly Sunday afternoon game. Tickets available via https://bit.ly/3ZGWgpX.
Queensland Reds v Fijian Drua, Sunday 19 March, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 3:00pm AEST. Watch live via Stan Sport.
- Dane Zander – University of Queensland – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Albany Creek Brumbies
- Matt Faessler – Brothers – Toowoomba Grammar School – USQ Saints
- Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – The Southport School – Gold Coast Eagles
- Ryan Smith – Brothers – St Patrick’s College Shorncliffe – Caboolture Snakes
- Seru Uru – Wests – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji – Namoli Rugby Club, Fiji
- Liam Wright (cc) – Easts – Anglican Church Grammar School – Easts
- Fraser McReight – Brothers – Brisbane Grammar School – Albany Creek Brumbies
- Harry Wilson – Brothers – St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace – Gunnedah Red Devils
- Tate McDermott – University of Queensland – Sunshine Coast Grammar School – Flinders Rugby Club
- James O’Connor – Brothers – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Brothers
- Filipo Daugunu – Wests – Dogotuki District School, Fjii
- Taj Annan* – Souths – Brisbane Boys College – Merewether Carlton
- Josh Flook – Brothers – St Joseph’s Nudgee College – Brothers
- Jordan Petaia – Wests – Brisbane State High School
- Jock Campbell – University of Queensland – The Southport School – Inverell Highlanders
- Richie Asiata – Easts – Anglican Church Grammar School
- Sef Fa’agase – Sunnybank – Shailer Park State High School – Beaudesert Warriors
- Peni Ravai – Easts – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji
- Jake Upfield – Bond University – The Southport School
- Connor Vest – University of Queensland – Grafton High School – Grafton Junior Rugby Club
- Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland – Ipswich Grammar School – Souths
- Tom Lynagh – University of Queensland – Epsom College – Richmond Rugby Club
- Suliasi Vunivalu – Wests – Saint Kentigern College, Auckland
*denotes Queensland and Super Rugby Pacific starting debut
Squad Naming: Round Four vs Blues
The Crusaders have named their squad to take on the Blues this Saturday, 18 March, at Eden Park.
Round Four of Super Rugby Pacific 2023 brings up a rematch of the 2022 final, when Crusaders took out their sixth title beating the Blues 21-7 at home. Always a great Kiwi derby, both teams are set to front a strong pack in Auckland.
On debut is Pepesana Patafilo, set to make an impact off the bench. On his selection, Patafilo said he was “surprised and excited”.
Previously with the Hurricanes, Patafilo made the move south late last year and said the “attention to detail in the Crusaders environment is next level”.
Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach, said Patafilo brought huge energy to the team.
“He works hard and tops a lot of our stats in our GPS tracking during training. So, we’re excited for him and so is he,” Robertson said.
Hooker Codie Taylor returns to the front row alongside Joe Moody and Tamaiti Williams, with Brodie McAlister, Kershawl Sykes-Martin and George Bower on impact. Sykes-Martin debuted last week in Fiji.
No more than 11 capped All Blacks will look to take the field on Saturday, including the likes of Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Braydon Ennor and Richie Mo’unga.
“It’s going to be a hell of a weekend,” Robertson said.
“We’ve had some historic games over the last few years haven’t we. They beat us at home, we’ve beat them up there and they’ve got some awesome rugby players playing for them.”
Sevu Reece and Leicester Fainga’anuku are taking the wings while Braydon Ennor and Dallas McLeod are covering centre. Fergus Burke returns to full back.
Coming off a loss in Fiji against the Drua last weekend, Robertson said the team showed a lot of effort “but it’s the execution part we’ve really focused on this week”.
“It’s another big game for us, another great opportunity for our players to go out and perform at a great local derby.”
“It’s great to have our hookers back, they weren’t available last week, and we decided to give our All Blacks the opportunity to have a rest week, so we welcome them back too.
Kick-off Saturday night at 7:05pm, Eden Park Auckland.
Fraser McReight re-signs with Queensland and Australian Rugby through 2025
Queensland Rugby Union and Rugby Australia are delighted to announce backrower Fraser McReight has re-signed with Queensland and Australian Rugby through 2025.
The 24-year-old debuted for the Reds in 2019 and is closing in on his 50th cap for his state, captaining Queensland for the first time last season.
McReight made his first appearance in the green and gold in 2020 and has already played 10 games for his country, with the two-year deal keeping him in Australian Rugby for the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour.
McReight said: “I love playing for Queensland, it’s my home, so I’m super excited to be able to play here for another two-years.
“This team has plenty left to achieve and I want to be here when we do.
“I’m really enjoying my time here working hard with the boys and the staff, which makes coming into work very enjoyable.”
“I love representing my state and country and that’s my first priority.
“It’s an exciting time in Australian Rugby with a new coach, World Cup and Lions tour coming up. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Reds General Manager – Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “It has been pleasing to have seen Fraser’s progression from our academy to the Wallabies in such a short period of time.
“It’s great to have him recommitted through 2025, I know he’ll have his sights set on success at both the Reds and Wallabies.”
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones said: “Fraser is a player with plenty of potential and to have him re-sign with Australian Rugby is outstanding.”
“He’s made a good start to the year with Queensland and we’re looking forward to watching him closely throughout the Super Rugby Pacific season.”
Born on the Sunshine Coast, McReight played his junior Rugby at the Albany Creek Brumbies and attended Brisbane Grammar School where he earnt Queensland and Australian schoolboy honours.
McReight captained the Junior Wallabies side who finished runners-up in the 2019 U20s World Championships in Argentina and was awarded back-to-back Australian U20s player of the year awards in 2018 and 2019.
The openside flanker has been a mainstay in the Reds pack since 2019, playing 47 games and scoring seven tries in the maroon jersey.
McReight made his Wallaby debut against the All Blacks in 2020, while he also captained Australia A last season.
- Position: Flanker
- Height: 184cm
- Weight: 102kg
- Born: 19/02/1999
- Place of birth: Buderim, Queensland
- Senior Club: Brothers
- School: Brisbane Grammar School
- Junior Club: Albany Creek Brumbies
- Queensland debut: 24/03/2019 v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium
- Queensland caps: 47
- Wallabies debut: 31/10/2020 v New Zealand, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Wallabies caps: 10
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