With Jerome Kaino and Wyatt Crockett both having announced their plans to leave Super Rugby after this campaign, we decided to select our Loyal XV.
Two of New Zealand’s longest-serving veterans have both decided to call it quits after this Super Rugby campaign. In tribute to Wyatt Crockett and Jerome Kaino, we have picked New Zealand’s most loyal XV on the criteria of current players who have only pl
1 WYATT CROCKETT [Crusaders 2006-2018]
Crocky, as he’s affectionately known, will complete his 13th and final season with the Crusaders this year. He will most likely play a record 200 games for the Crusaders if he avoids injury.
He probably would rather have cut his leg off than even think about playing for anyone other than the Crusaders.
2 DANE COLES [Hurricanes 2009 -]
It feels like Colesy has been around forever. And he kind of has. He first played for Wellington in 2007 and the Hurricanes in 2009. He’s signed through to 2019 and he showed his commitment to the jersey when he played in the 2016 final with broken ribs.
3 OWEN FRANKS [Crusaders 2009 -]
Franksy – he’s never called that but if he’s in the frontrow alongside Crocky and Colesy – first played for the Crusaders as a 21-year-old back in 2009. He is now the longest, continuously serving tight-head in New Zealand.
We suspect he probably sleeps in his Crusaders jersey.
4 LUKE ROMANO [Crusaders 2011 -]
He was a late bloomer but still, there aren’t many locks who have been around for longer. He and the Crusaders have been a neat fit from day one.
5 SAM WHITELOCK [Crusaders 2010 -]
Big Sam is going to be here until 2019 at least and we suspect for longer still. He’s another dedicated one-club man and if anyone is going to beat Crockett’s 200 Super Rugby games, it will be him.
6 JEROME KAINO [Blues 2006-2018]
But for injury, Jerome Kaino would have played for the Blues in 2005. He missed the 2013 season as he was in Japan, but he’s been bashing around in that Blues jersey for 12 years.
He’s going to be emotional when he wears it for the last time.
7 SAM CANE [Chiefs 2011 -]
Little remembered fact is that Sam Cane made his debut for the Chiefs when he was barely 19. Drafted in during an injury crisis, he played against the Crusaders in Napier. And he outplayed his opponent that night...one R. McCaw. He is the beating heart of the Chiefs and we suspect will be there for another five years if not longer.
8 KIERAN READ [Crusaders 2007 -]
The All Blacks captain probably should have gone to the 2007 World Cup. He made his debut for the Crusaders that year and was superb. He’s been a long time in the professional game here and it has all been given to one club. He says the Crusaders made him the man and player he is.
9 AARON SMITH [Highlanders 2011 -]
It’s easy to think of him as still being a relative newcomer, but Smith is now the longest-serving halfback in New Zealand. He was in the Blues wider squad in 2010 before he was picked up by the Highlanders in 2011. Now in his eighth season with the Highlanders, he takes on veteran status. He clearly loves the club.
10 BEAUDEN BARRETT [Hurricanes 2011 -]
Like Cane, Barrett first played Super Rugby before he was actually a contracted player. He was used at fullback in 2011 when there were a few injuries. The Blues have tried to prise him away...but Barrett is committed to the Hurricanes largely because his father was, too, playing a few seasons for them back in the day.
11 JULIAN SAVEA [Hurricanes 2011 -]
He’s been a man in demand for most of his career, but Julian Savea has only ever wanted to be a Hurricane. It’s impossible to imagine him playing for any other club. The Chiefs tried to sign him last year but he said no chance.
12 GEORGE MOALA [Blues 2012 -]
Tim Bateman has been playing Super Rugby since 2007 - but not for one club. George Moala is the longest-serving second five at just one club.
13 RYAN CROTTY [Crusaders 2009 -]
Crotty grew up in Christchurch and has never wanted to be anywhere else. He loves that red jersey and has represented it so well for almost 10 seasons.
14 ISRAEL DAGG [Crusaders 2011 -]
Israel Dagg first played Super Rugby in 2009 when he was drafted to the Highlanders. He spent two years down there before the Crusaders were able to accommodate him and he’s been fiercely loyal ever since.
15 BEN SMITH [Highlanders 2009 -]
Ben Smith is quite ludicrously devoted to the Highlanders. He grew up in Dunedin and has never contemplated playing for any other club than the Highlanders. It said everything that he was desperate to play against the Lions last year...for the Highlanders..