The Crusaders have confirmed that veteran lock Sam Whitelock will return from Japan to boost the squad during Vodacom Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson on Tuesday confirmed that the All Blacks lock’s contract with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan had ended at the beginning of May, which makes him available for selection when the domestic version of Super Rugby kicks off in June.
Whitelock was set to miss the original 2020 Super Rugby season after a contract with the Wild Knights, but the cancellation of the 2020 Top League season and restructuring of this year’s Super Rugby has rendered him available.
‘Sam’s available to play – it’s great to have him back,’ Robertson said on Newstalk ZB.
The 31-year-old’s presence will bolster the Crusaders, who will be captained by Scott Barrett, especially as the team will have to get used to the feeling of playing behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘It’s a bit like training, isn’t it,’ Robertson said on how the players will adapt to empty stadiums. ‘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. There are different ways we can add this into our first few weeks. We’ll ask the players what they need.’
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