Powerful midfielder Robbie Fruean and flying Fijian winger Jone Macilai have been included in the Crusaders 2015 Super Rugby squad..
Fruean will return to the team after spending 2014 with the Chiefs. Fruean is a powerful midfielder who first debuted for the Crusaders in 2010 and has already earned 61 caps for the team.
"We're excited to have Robbie back with us for 2015. He is a good man with a lot of talent and we welcome him back with open arms," Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said.
"Robbie showed during this year's ITM Cup what great progress he has made with his health and fitness of late, so we know that he will be eager to get out there and show that he's got what it takes."
Also adding to the backline stocks is Northland winger Macilai. Macilai was picked up by Northland last year after being spotted playing in a rugby sevens tournament in Fiji. Blackadder said he will bring an injection of speed to the backline next season.
"Jone has just had a very impressive ITM Cup and had the third highest number of clean breaks and metres gained in the competition. We can see some really exciting potential in him and look forward to working with him this season, he said.
The new faces in the forwards are hooker Ged Robinson and lock Scott Barrett. Blackadder says Robinson will bring some valuable experience to the team following the departure of the Crusaders' most capped player, fellow hooker Corey Flynn.
"Ged is a solid and ambitious player with some really useful experience under his belt. He already has over 60 Super Rugby caps to his name but I know he is also keen to keep developing his game and pushing his career forward, so we're happy to help him to that in 2015."
Scott Barrett made his first Crusaders appearance last year when the side faced England during its New Zealand tour and he also came off the reserve bench against the Blues later in the season. He also debuted for the Canterbury ITM Cup team this year and did enough to convince Blackadder that he deserves a spot in the 2015 squad.
"We've been really pleased with what we've seen from Scott so far. He has an amazing skill set and we believe he's absolutely ready to step up to this next level of rugby," Blackadder said.
Centre Kieron Fonotia and outside back Nafi Tuitavake have stepped up to the full squad from last year's Wider Training Group. Blackadder said they are both men who have taken their opportunities and earned the right to be in the 2015 squad. "I am confident that we will see good things from both of these players this season and that they will be influential members of this team."
Crusaders 2015 Squad
Forwards: Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Tim PerryOwen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Codie Taylor, Ged Robinson, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Jimmy Tupou, Scott Barrett, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Matt Todd, Kieran Read, Jordan Taufua.
Backs:Andy Ellis, Willi Heinz, Mitchell Drummond, Daniel Carter, Colin Slade, Tom Taylor, Kieran Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Robbie Fruean, Nemani Nadolo, Jone Macilai, Johnny McNicholl, Nafi Tuitavake, Israel Dagg.