Five players to watch: The Crusaders

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Saturday, November 3, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

While they have plenty of big names and proven international stars, find out a little bit more about five young players to keep an eye on for the Crusaders in 2019.


Will Jordan
Fullback Will Jordan carved up the Mitre 10 Cup in 2017 and he did it again in 2018 with the Tasman Mako.

We know he has got provincial level sorted, so now it would be superb to watch him show his wares in Super Rugby. In 2018 he had to bide his time due to injury and the likes of David Havili, George Bridge and Israel Dagg, but chances are in 2019 he will see plenty of action.

Jordan scored nine tries and carried for 891 metres for the Mako in 2018, He is adept under the high ball, runs good angles and is a potent finisher, so looms as a potential key Crusader of the future.

Ereatara Enari
At just 21, Ere Enari has had enough injury bad luck to last a lifetime, but has already accomplished much in his career.

The Canterbury halfback, who can also play first five and kick goals, made it back onto the field late in the province’s Mitre 10 charge to the Premiership final. He had suffered a second broken leg late in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup, ruling him out of the Crusaders’ 2018 Super Rugby campaign.

Enari played for NZ Schools in 2014 and NZ Universities in 2015. He is smooth, astute footballer with a wide skillset who will complement Mitch Drummond and Bryn Hall and be a more than adequate replacement when required.

Quinten Strange
Along with Pari Pari Parkinson, Quinten Strange formed one of the Mitre 10 Cup’s most potent locking duos with the Tasman Mako.

Strange won his share of lineouts (36, ranked fifth), clattered into rucks and generally made his considerable 1.99m and 112kg frame felt.

Depending on Sam Whitelock’s workload in Rugby World Cup year, we may see a lot of Strange in not just the Crusaders’ No 19 jersey, but No 4 or 5. He now has 17 caps to his name, so is far from a rookie.

The 22-year-old Strange has a solid rugby pedigree, having played for the New Zealand Under 20s in 2016.

He will add real depth to the Crusaders’ burgeoning locking stocks.

Billy Harmon
Billy Harmon continues the tradition of quality Canterbury and Crusaders No 7s.

The 23-year-old out of the New Brighton club has stepped into Matt Todd’s shoes at both province and franchise with aplomb and offers high value in any job-sharing role with the All Black.

A knee injury cut short his debut Crusaders season in July, but he made it back onto the field for Canterbury later in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Harmon has been fortunate to learn from one of the best with Todd and looks set to be an important cog in the Crusaders’ match-day squad for 2019. He carries the ball strongly, as well as performing, with aplomb, his core tasks of tackling, cleaning out and turning over the loose ball.

Ethan Blackadder

Raw-boned, committed, uncompromising.

These adjectives sum up loose forward Ethan Blackadder, a real chip off the ol’ block, son of Crusaders legend, former captain and coach Todd Blackadder. Blackadder junior is hungry on the ball, a characteristic of most Crusaders loosies.

The 23-year-old has plenty of Mitre 10 Cup experience under his belt plus four Crusaders caps. His ability to play all three loose forward positions and lock, at a pinch, makes him a valuable addition to any match-day squad.

Educated at Nelson College, alma mater of Wyatt Crockett and Mitch Drummond, among others, Blackadder has been a key plank, since 2016, of an outstanding Mako loose trio.