Long-serving Crusaders loose forward, Jordan Taufua, has announced he will depart New Zealand at the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 27-year-old is set to join Premiership side Leicester Tigers, after what will be his seventh season with the Crusaders.
Taufua said he felt it was important to make the announcement ahead of the start of the Investec Super Rugby competition, so that he could focus solely on making the most of his final season.
“The New Zealand rugby environment isn’t easy to leave, and the support I’ve had from team mates, management and fans over the years made this a difficult decision.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to wear both the Crusaders and Mako jerseys over a long period of time, but for me this is the next step in my rugby career. It’s an opportunity to experience the game over the other side of the world, and tackle a new challenge which is exciting for both myself and my family.”
“I am very excited to be joining the Leicester Tigers after the Rugby World Cup this year. I have taken time to learn about the history of the club and it will be an honour to be a part of such a storied rugby programme.
“I see a lot of similarities between the Tigers and the Crusaders, and I am fully bought-in to the vision that Geordan Murphy and his staff have for the team. I am looking forward to playing in front of the club’s amazing fans at Welford Road later this year.”
Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy added: “Jordan is a very physical and powerful player schooled in the best traditions of back-row play in New Zealand. He has extensive experience in Super Rugby with the Crusaders and we look forward to welcoming him to Welford Road in the new season.”
Last year, Taufua was rewarded for his loyalty and consistency with selection in the All Blacks squad for the Steinlager Series. However, injuries meant he never got the chance to play for the national side in 2018.
“It was a dream come true to be named in the All Blacks for the first time and, while it was disappointing not to take the field, I still have aspirations to pull on the black jersey this year. Between that goal, and the opportunity to win another Super Rugby title with the Crusaders, I’m looking forward to throwing all of my energy into 2019,” Taufua said.
Taufua represented New Zealand Under 17s, Samoa in the 2011 Junior World Championship, and then New Zealand Under 20 the following year. He made his provincial debut for Tasman in 2012, and returned to the Mako in 2017 after time with both Canterbury and Counties Manukau.
The powerful loose forward currently has 81 Super Rugby caps to his name, and 83 Crusaders games, since making his debut against the Stormers in 2013. The former Lincoln University representative earned his 50th Super Rugby cap during the 2016 season, and missed just one game during the side’s successful 2017 campaign. He earned 14 Super Rugby caps during 2018, before missing the Final in Christchurch through injury.
BNZ Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: “Jordan represents what it means to be a Crusader – he is hard-working, dedicated, and his loyalty is endearing to fans throughout our region.
“Jordan has been an integral part of many a Super Rugby campaign for us and while we wish him and his family all the best, we look forward to one final Crusade with him in 2019,” Mansbridge said.
Head Coach Scott Robertson said: “Jordan brings energy to our Crusaders group like no other – he’s a beast on the field and a great man off it.
“We know he’s a special rugby player, but it’s his community work and unique connection to our fans that makes him a special person as well. While we’ll certainly miss having him around in 2020 we respect his decision, and our job as a team is to put a champion Crusader on the podium one last time,” Robertson said.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum said: “We want to wish Jordan all the very best on his next move and we look forward to seeing him play in New Zealand this year.
“We know that players like Jordan and others will make the decision to head overseas, and we respect that, but we feel we are in a pretty good spot heading into 2020 with a number of key players re-signed and negotiations continuing with others, which is positive.”
Tasman Mako CEO Tony Lewis said: “Jordan espouses all the characteristics of a “Mako Man” – team man first; humility, trailblazer, unassailable grit and who dares wins attitude. He is a genuine leader on and off the pitch, a good person first, and his loyalty has made him popular amongTasman Mako staff and fans.
“Jordan has been a key part of Mako rugby, winning two Mako Man awards (player of the season) and we wish him all the best, but look forward to his swansong in 2019,” Lewis said.
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