Crusaders announce surprise Matera signing

The Crusaders confirmed on Friday that Argentinian loose forward Pablo Matera has signed with the club for the 2022 Super Rugby season.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: ‘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. We are still working through the finer detail of this with Pablo and his agent, but we look forward to welcoming him in to our environment once that is complete.’

Towards the end of last year, Matera was widely celebrated after producing a stunning performance that led the Pumas to a historic victory over the All Blacks.

However, this was soured when he was embroiled in a racism scandal soon after. He was instructed to undergo educational training and community service in order to remain a part of the national team.

Matera, along with his international teammates Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, has previously been suspended for racist comments made on social media between 2011 and 2013 before being reinstated two days later.

After an investigation, the Argentine Rugby Union decided the three players must undergo such training, with Matera barred from the captaincy until it is completed.

It remains to be seen how Matera could be reintegrated back to the Argentina national side, but his club future has been confirmed with the Crusaders announcement that he will be heading to Christchurch next season.

‘Pablo is one of the premier loose forwards in World Rugby,’ Crusaders coach Scott Robertson 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.’

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Craig Lewis