Taufua and Alaalatoa re-sign with Crusaders
Taufua has committed to a seventh season with the Crusaders, having made his debut against the Stormers in Cape Town back in 2013. He earned his 50th Super Rugby cap during the 2016 season, and proved an integral member of last year's champion team, missing just one game during the successful 2017 campaign.
"The Crusaders have been such a big part of my rugby career and after weighing up my options, it was clear that this is where I want to be. I still feel like I have a lot to contribute and I’m loving playing my rugby alongside some of the world's best players, who are also great mates, and a passionate coaching group," Taufua said.
"2017 was a special season but each campaign brings new ideas, new faces and a fresh challenge. So although a seventh season makes me one of the more experienced players in the group, I'm still thriving in this environment, learning more and more about my game and developing as a leader in the team.”
Born in Auckland, Taufua made his provincial debut in 2012 for Tasman and has since played for Canterbury and Counties Manukau, before returning to Tasman for the 2017 National Provincial Cup season. He has 64 provincial caps to his name, as well as 71 Super Rugby caps for the Crusaders. Taufua previously represented the New Zealand Under-17s, Samoa U20s, and was a member of the New Zealand U20 team in 2012.
Alaalatoa joined the Crusaders in 2016, after kicking off his Super Rugby career with the Waratahs in his place of birth, Sydney. The 26-year-old tighthead prop has 38 Super Rugby caps to date and represents the Manawatu Turbos in the NPC. He's started in all four of the BNZ Crusaders matches so far in 2018 and has re-signed through to 2020.
"I started my Super Rugby career in 2014, but made the move to New Zealand to play in the provincial competition here, with the hope of securing a Super Rugby contract. I'm grateful to have signed with the Crusaders back then and it was an easy decision to commit to this team for the next two seasons and continue to grow my game here," Alaalatoa said.
"This Crusaders group is really tight-knit and we have a strong team culture led by the coaches and senior players. I'm excited to be able to contribute to that culture over the coming seasons, and add to the proud history of this team."
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said both signings were testament to the players' loyalty and passion for the Crusaders jersey: "It's exciting to have players of Jordan and Mikes’ calibre re-commit to the Crusaders. Both have been integral members of this side already this year and I have no doubt they will continue to play an important role throughout the 2018 season and beyond.
"Jordan is the ultimate competitor; he’s an uncompromising defender and equally as dangerous on attack. He had an immense 2017 campaign and has returned from the arm injury he sustained in the NPC with a real desire to perfom well for this team and a hunger to win another title with a side he really cares about.
"He is certainly a player who leads by example, empties the tank every game and inspires those around him to be better – so we are excited that 'the beast' will be in a Crusaders jersey again in 2019.
"Mike's game is moving from strength to strength and he continues to impress us with his work ethic and constant drive to improve. He’s certainly taken his opportunities so far this season, he’s playing some valuable minutes and his best rugby is still to come, so to have him re-commit through to 2020 is massive for us," Robertson said.