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Crusaders pay tribute to super fan Doreen after her death at 96

She spent her life supporting the Crusaders on and off the field, but one of the team's number one fans has died at the age of 96.

Doreen Searle died on Sunday after a heart attack, now the team she loved is planning a tribute at their semi-final clash on Saturday.

Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock has remembered the superfan as a stalwart supporter who was always quick with a hug and a kiss.

"A number of the boys have had letters and cards and a few of the older boys when they had kids she would knit something, beanies or booties and there a lot of those boys who are holding on to those little treasures," Whitelock said.

Searle backed the team since she was young, and maintained a tradition of drinking sherry to celebrate the team's tries.

The team returned the favour, with players visiting her in her memorabilia-filled home for special occasions. Their last visit was just two days before her death.

"She had had a few minor strokes, so she was a little slower," said Whitelock.

"But she knew who we were when we got nice and close, and she was telling us off for not winning games enough."

Doreen was farewelled by friends and family at a service in Rangiora today.

Doreen Searle was the most one-eyed Canterbury rugby supporter, and loved the team like they were her own. Source: 1 NEWS