Crusaders lock Mitchell Dunshea has signed a contract extension with both the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions in the Crusaders and Canterbury to keep him in Christchurch through until 2023.
It no doubt comes as welcomed news for both Crusaders and All Blacks fans, with the 25-year-old having been on the cusp of an All Blacks debut last year.
Despite not initially being involved in Ian Foster’s plans, Dunshea was called into the squad as an injury replacement for fellow Crusaders second rower Quinten Strange.
In fact, he was one of four locks from the Super Rugby side to have been involved in the national setup last year, alongside regulars in Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock.
While he didn’t go on to make his test debut, his inclusion in last year’s Tri-Nations squad is indicative of where he stands in the national pecking order.
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Dunshea, a hard-working and talented lock, was a reliable option for the Crusaders when Barrett and Whitelock were both unavailable during periods of last year and was rewarded with selection for the South Island in last year’s North vs South match.
Now considered to be one of New Zealand’s premier locks, Dunshea’s status is reflected in a RugbyPass piece in mid-February where five writers ranked the top 10 players of each position in Australia and New Zealand.
After averaging the lists out, Dunshea was regarded as the sixth best second rower across both New Zealand and Australia.
The Crusaders have been the form team of South Hemisphere rugby for years now, but as they continue to secure the services of fringe test prospects like Dunshea, there’s no reason why they can’t be contesting in years to come.
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