Scott Robertson names the two Crusaders youngsters to look out for in 2022
Eyeing a sixth title in as many years after clinching five Super Rugby and Super Rugby Aotearoa championships in as many years, the Crusaders are blessed with an array of talent and quality throughout their squad.
A further four players – Jack Goodhue, Cullen Grace, Mitchell Drummond and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi – also have All Blacks experience, making the Crusaders one of the strongest outfits in the revamped competition.
However, it is two of the squad’s youngest and least experienced members that Robertson has pinpointed as players to watch out for this year.
Speaking to media earlier this week, the serial title-winning coach highlighted tighthead props Tamaiti Williams and Fletcher Newell as exciting young prospects who could take Super Rugby Pacific by storm in 2022.
With Samoan international Michael Alaalatoa now with European powerhouses Leinster, a vacancy has emerged in the No 3 jersey for the season ahead.
Irish import Oli Jager stands as the most experienced contender to fill that void, but the 26-year-old is currently sidelined with injury, leaving Williams and Newell in a head-to-head battle for starting honours with the season a week away from kick-off.
As such, Robertson said the pair are primed to make a big impact in what will be their sophomore campaigns at Super Rugby level.
“We’ve got some great young props. Oli Jager’s out for this week, so we’ve got Tamaiti Williams coming in, and Fletcher Newell,” Robertson said ahead of his side’s final pre-season clash against the Hurricanes in Queenstown on Saturday.
“They’re good, young tightheads that are learning their trade and these games are really important for them up against some quality scrums.
“They’ve trained well, they’ve been in our environment for a couple of years. Just excited for them to get going.”
Williams seemingly has the edge in the selection race against Newell after being named to start at Wakatipu Rugby Club this weekend, with Newell to assume the tighthead prop role in the second half.
Who performs the best out of the two 2019 New Zealand U20 representatives against the Hurricanes will likely determine who starts in their season-opener against the Wellingtonians in Dunedin next Saturday.
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