Crusaders bolster front row stocks
Christchurch - The Crusaders have announced that hooker Ben Funnell, loosehead prop Tim Perry and tighthead prop Oliver Jager have signed new deals with the Christchurch-based franchise.
Funnell and Perry have re-signed through to 2019 while Jager has signed through to 2020.
Funnell is an experienced member of the Crusaders squad, having debuted in 2012 off the back of an impressive first season for the Canterbury provincial team. He grew up in the Manawatu region near his cousins, George, Adam, Sam and Luke Whitelock.
He was a former captain of Palmerston North Boys High school rugby team and was a member of the 2008 NZ Secondary Schools squad. He also captained the Crusader Knights development team in 2012.
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson describes him as: "A tough and uncompromising player who relishes the physicality of the sport. He performs his core roles well and also contributes an intelligent understanding of the game.
"This is his sixth year with the team, yet he still shows growth and development each season. We know he will continue to be an important contributor over the next couple of years at least."
Perry joined the Crusaders in 2014 after making his Super Rugby debut for the Blues the previous year. Joining the Crusaders was a homecoming for the Ashburton-born, St Andrews College schooled, Tasman provincial player.
Perry is the son of former All Black Grant Perry. He has represented New Zealand at Secondary School, U19 and Heartland levels.
“Tim is a tenacious and competitive front rower who makes an impact each time he plays," said Robertson.
"He has had an unlucky run of injuries over recent years but we know what he is capable of at his best and look forward to seeing him unleash it over the next couple of years with us."
Irish prop Jager has made his way into the Crusaders squad this year via the Crusaders International High Performance Unit. He played for the Ireland U18 Schools side in 2013 but when he missed selection for the Leinster academy system, Jager decided to pursue his rugby dream in Canterbury.
He did a month long programme and the Crusaders International High Performance Unit and impressed enough to be asked to return for a shot at club rugby in 2014. Three years on and Jager has cemented himself as a valued member of the New Brighton Club, Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup team and Crusaders.
Robertson describes him as a man of great character with a bright future.
“Oli is still very young but has shown huge maturity in the decisions he has made about his career and in the way he trains and plays," he said.
"It has been a rapid rise for him, but he has never let himself be over-awed or fazed by the fact he is training and playing alongside many of the best front-rowers in the world.
“It is testament to all of these players that they know they will continue to learn off the All Black front-rowers in this squad and replicate what they have achieved.
"All three players continue to have a massive contribution to make to this team and we are thrilled that they are Crusaders."