Sam Whitelock’s Return To Boost Crusaders Campaign
Wellington: The Crusaders have confirmed a massive boost for the hastily altered 2020 campaign with veteran test lock Sam Whitelock returning to the squad.
Coach Scott Robertson confirmed that Whitelock’s Japan contract ended in May anyway so the great All Black lock and former captain would be available when Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off in a month’s time.
Experience will be a key ingredient as teams play in empty stadiums and in a series of brutal all-New Zealand clashes because of the virus crisis.
And Whitelock’s presence will only increase the Crusaders’ - who have won three consecutive titles - status as hot favourites to prevail once again.
The 2019 captain Whitelock was going to miss this Super Rugby season after taking up a contract with the Panasonic Wild Knights.
“Sam’s available to play- it’s great to have him back,” said Robertson, who had already named another test lock Scott Barrett as his new captain. Whitelock told Sky Sport last month he was “pretty gutted’ the Japan league was cancelled and would start talking to the Crusaders and Canterbury about joining them again.
Robertson says the Crusaders will create their own atmosphere on the field to deal with the empty stadiums. Robertson told Newstalk ZB that the amount of experience within the ranks of the champions put them in a good position to deal with the empty stadiums. “It’s a bit like training isn’t it?,” he said. “It’s like anything. If you have a plan you can deal with it, deal with the uniqueness.
“You have to create your own atmosphere on the field, create that intensity, we’ve got a lot of experienced guys who can.
The first round sees Blues hosting the Hurricanes while Highlanders take on the Chiefs. Crusaders are on bye.
Veteran lock forward Sam Whitelock returns from the cancelled Japan League to join the Crusaders in the resumption of Super Rugby comp in New Zealand.