Cape Town - The
Crusaders have suffered a setback with the news that back-rower Whetu
Douglas will be heading overseas to join PRO12 club Treviso.
Douglas, who played his most recent match for the seven-time champions
against the Sunwolves last weekend, has been one of the Crusaders' stars
in their unbeaten run this season after he joined them on a short-term
contract as late injury cover for All Blacks captain Kieran Read.
The 26-year-old Waikato Mitre 10 Cup captain confirmed his deal with Treviso will begin in June.
The Maori All Black who went on last year’s northern hemisphere tour will link
up with former All Black and coach of Treviso, Kieran Crowley, who took
over as the head coach of the Italian outfit last season.
“It was a hard decision to leave Waikato and New Zealand Rugby. This
opportunity will allow me to be a full-time professional rugby player,
and to look after my young family.” Douglas told Waikato's official
“I’m going to miss the Waikato set up, as it has been the back bone
of my career to date and I hope to be back in the future. I'd like to
thank everyone at the Waikato Rugby Union past and present, for their
role in my development as a player and as a leader since my arrival in
“I'm excited about playing at Benetton Treviso next season, and to
experience all that the Italian culture has to offer myself and my
Waikato coach Sean Botherway is thrilled Douglas has the opportunity to be a full-time professional.
“Whilst it’s a shame it is not here in New Zealand, Whets is a
quality player and has worked exceptionally hard over a number of years
and deserves his opportunity to play the game professionally," he said.
"He has been a massive contributor to Waikato Rugby and is immensely well respected by both his peers and management.”
“We will miss Whetu, but at the same time we wish him, Jess and the
kids well in their adventures overseas. I hope this is not the last we
see of him in the Mooloo colours."
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said they were hoping to extend
Douglas' loan deal but could not come to terms with Treviso.
"Whetu had signed a contract with Treviso before he came down to the
Crusaders and we were hoping to have him for the whole season,"
Robertson told the Stuff website.
"Now he has to, in simple terms, honour that contract. He left us
this week with a lot of disappointment on and off the field. Everyone
knows, and he will say it, he exceeded expectations.
"He would have loved to have stayed. But that is just the way it worked out."