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Michael Alaalatoa headlines Canterbury's seven new signings for 2019

By Online Editors
Michael Alaalatoa with the Super Rugby trophy. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa has headed south for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup season after spending three years with Manawatu.

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Canterbury today announced their squad for the new season – which kicks off in under two weeks. Seven new signings are on the books, including Alaalatoa, who has notched up almost 70 caps for the Super Rugby champions.

“We are thrilled to have Crusaders prop Mike Alaalatoa join us this year,” said Canterbury head coach Joe Maddock.

“Mike has six seasons’ worth of experience at Super Rugby level, and his voice is going to be important among our young group of front-rowers. We’re glad he’s made the decision to base himself in Christchurch this season and look forward to seeing him in red and black.”

Whilst none of the other six signings boast anywhere near as much experience as Alaalatoa, there’s still reason for Cantabrians to get excited.

Fergus Burke, who was the key playmaker for the New Zealand U20 side in Argentina this year, will back-up one-cap All Black Brett Cameron. His U20 vice-captain, Dallas McLeod, is also part of the Canterbury squad for the first time. McLeod specialises in the midfield but may be asked to cover wing, given the presence of Tim Bateman, Ngane Punivai and possibly Braydon Ennor.

“Dallas’ work rate has impressed and he’ll have taken a lot of valuable lessons from his experiences already this year,” said Maddock.

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The other new inclusions are lock/blindside Cullen Grace and backs Sam Gilbert, Rameka Poihipi and Junior Ratuva.

Luke Whitelock will captain the side after being omitted from the All Blacks squad. Maddock has decided to name four vice-captains, in the form of Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Drummond, Luke Romano and Bateman.

Canterbury kick off their season on Saturday 10th of August against Waikato, who won the Championship last season.

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