Crusaders star signs for Leinster
TRANSFER NEWS: Michael Alaalatoa will be leaving the Crusaders for Leinster later this year
The 29-year-old tighthead prop, who has been capped at international level by Samoa, will leave New Zealand in August, linking up with Leinster following the Super Rugby competition.
Discussing his signing, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said: “We are very excited by Michael’s arrival in the coming months. He is a player with top quality Super Rugby and international experience and he is hungry for further success and to play a part in building on the work that is already underway here.
“We have a group of younger props who will only benefit from his experience and we believe the wider group will also learn a lot from Michael and his rugby knowledge from playing with the Crusaders in particular.
“We look forward to welcoming him and his family to the club.”
𝙒𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚, 𝙈𝙞𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙚𝙡 🙌
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) April 12, 2021
Alaalatoa, who was born and raised in Sydney, represented Samoa at Under-20 and senior international level, like his father, Vili, before him.
His last game for Samoa was in the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Ireland where he lined up against many of his future Leinster colleagues.
He made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2014, before moving to the Crusaders in 2016, where he has enjoyed considerable success, winning the Super Rugby title on three occasions and the Super Rugby Aotearoa championship last year when the Super Rugby season was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Alaalatoa is a powerful 126kg prop and has 89 Crusaders caps to his name and has started five of their six Super Rugby games so far this season.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, Alaalatoa said: “It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to join Leinster Rugby.
“They have enjoyed a lot of success for a long time and have produced a lot of Irish internationals which speaks highly of their rugby programme and team culture.
“It is something that I am really excited about being a part of and I am looking forward to starting a new adventure in Dublin with my family.”
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson acknowledged Alaalatoa’s immense contribution over the past six seasons: “Mike has left his mark on our team, our culture and our scrum. He is a true professional who gets the best out of himself and continues to get better.
“He’ll leave our team as a world-class prop, and we’ll miss him, Kara and Parker, but we are determined to send him off on a successful note at the end of the 2021 season.”
Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan added: “I have seen Mikey grow so much, both as a player and a person, in the last four years. He’s contributed every week through having world-class preparation. I will miss him, and wish him and his family all the best for their new journey.”