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Pablo Matera to make Super Rugby return with champion Crusaders

By Tom Vinicombe
Argentina's Pablo Matera. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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In a somewhat surprise announcement on Friday afternoon, the Crusaders have confirmed that Argentina captain Pablo Matera has signed with the Super Rugby franchise for the 2022 season.

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Matera made his Super Rugby debut in 2016 for the Jaguares and captained the Argentinian side to their first grand final appearance in 2019. The disbanding of the Super Rugby competition in 2020 forced the loose forward to head overseas, where he linked up with French club Stade Francais.

“We know Pablo is keen to get back to playing Super Rugby, and we’re excited by the prospect of him joining us here in Christchurch in 2022,” said Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge. “We are still working through the finer detail of this with Pablo and his agent, but we look forward to welcoming him into our environment once that is complete.”

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Head coach Scott Robertson was naturally also positive about securing Matera’s signature.

“Pablo is one of the premier loose forwards in World Rugby,” he said. He’s a skilful and tenacious player with genuine leadership qualities, who has impressed us with his physicality and work ethic. We’re really excited about him joining us next season, and sharing his experience with our young loose forward group who are learning their craft.”

The signing makes Matera the first capped Argentina player to represent a New Zealand Super Rugby franchise, with the loose forward having played for the Pumas since 2013 and accruing more than half a century of caps for the country.

Late last year, Matera captained the Pumas to a historic victory over the All Blacks but quickly went from hero to zero after racists social media comments from the Argentinian were unearthed.

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Matera was temporarily stripped of his captaincy and stood down from the national side but was quickly reappointed into the role, ostensibly due to the rest of the side expressing their displeasure at the decision.

Matera joins Tom Christie and Cullen Grace as the Crusaders’ confirmed loose forwards for 2022 while the likes of Ethan Blackadder, Tom Sanders, Whetukamokamo Douglas and Sione Havili Talitui have all impressed for the champion side this season.

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Pablo Matera to make Super Rugby return with champion Crusaders

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