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'He's a big lump of a man, 130kg plus': The Crusaders' impressive new 'rock' touted for fast track

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders newest young propping prospect has taken an ex-All Black by surprise after his strong performance against the Highlanders in the 17-14 win.

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Playing just his third Super Rugby game, tighthead prop Fletcher Newell scored a well earned try in the first half after hitting a gap and breaking through multiple Highlanders defenders.

His footwork combined with a massive frame gave the Crusaders strong carries and consistent gain line momentum as the Highlanders struggled to deal with the 22-year-old.

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That power equated to a strong carrying game that impressed former All Black No 8 Steven Bates on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown, with Bates estimating that Newell clocks in at over 130kg on the scales and fits the bill for what the national side need.

“This is a guy that many people wouldn’t know his name,” host Kirstie Stanway explained, “he was a rock on the weekend.”

“A couple of years ago, he was the young player of the year,” Bates said of the Crusader’s achievement from 2019.

The young prop holds the record for the heaviest squat ever recorded in the Crusaders Academy, setting the mark with 255kg in 2020 according to head coach Scott Robertson.

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“He’s been around, the Crusaders and Canterbury have obviously known about him. We’ve always known he’s a big lump of a lad, I’d say he’s 130 plus I reckon, a big young man.”

Bates projected that Newell’s unique ability and rare size makes him an immediate candidate for All Blacks honours, as Foster’s side struggled to get go forward against the likes of France and Ireland last November.

“But what impressed me that I hadn’t seen much of, an he obviously can do, was his ability to carry the ball,” he said.

“As we look forward, and I’m getting way too carried away here, if we look forward to the All Blacks, we need those kind of people that carry the ball because if we’ve learnt anything from the Six Nations, they’ve got plenty of those guys.

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“We need a few more of those. I’d say he’s in that category now but the ability to do it, I haven’t seen that from him before.”

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