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'I didn't think this day would come': All Black rejoins Crusaders

NEWS: All Black centre Ryan Crotty on Wednesday rejoined Super Rugby champions the Crusaders for the 2024 season, after four years playing in Japan.

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Crotty signed a one-year contract as the Crusaders bid for an eighth straight Super Rugby title under new head coach Rob Penney, who has replaced the All Blacks-bound Scott Robertson.

The 35-year-old won the last of his 48 New Zealand caps at the 2019 World Cup, the same year he departed for Kubota Spears after 152 appearances for the Crusaders.

“When I left the Crusaders, I didn’t think this day would come. I’m just really grateful,” Crotty said Wednesday.

Crotty will provide valuable experience after the departures of All Black trio Sam Whitelock, Richie Mo’unga and Leicester Fainga’anuku to overseas clubs.

“He’s been a cornerstone of this place for a long time, helped to form the culture we have here, and is a leader both on and off the field,” said Penney.

A chance meeting with Crusaders assistant coach James Marshall earlier this year, after Crotty’s return from Japan, led to him re-signing.

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“It just came about going for a walk with the family to grab a coffee, Jimmy Marshall drives past and yells out of the window: ‘Can you come down to training?’,” Crotty told reporters.

“I had no plans when I came back to New Zealand, but it’s turned into 2024 with the Crusaders.”

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