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Welsh-capped Kiwi answers struggling Crusaders SOS

TRANSFER NEWS: The Crusaders have signed New Zealand-born back Johnny McNicholl from Welsh club Llanelli Scarlets as cover for the injured All Blacks star Will Jordan and British and Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

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“We have had a couple of injuries and Johnny has a massive history here,” head coach Rob Penney said Wednesday.

“We had conversations which morphed into him coming home, which is fantastic for us.”

McNicholl made 39 appearances for the Crusaders before switching to Wales in 2016, where he qualified for the national side on residency. He has signed for the rest of the 2024 Super Rugby season.

The 33-year-old, who made 10 Test appearances for Wales, can play as either a fullback or wing.

The Christchurch-based team has lost both of their opening Super Rugby Pacific games after Penney replaced Scott All Blacks coach Robertson, who won seven straight Super Rugby titles.

They suffered a nail-biting 29-33 loss to the Chiefs in a repeat of last year’s Final, before going down 24-37 to the Waratahs in Melbourne last Saturday.

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The Crusaders play the Fijian Drua in Lautoka on Saturday, with the pressure on to avoid a third straight defeat.

“It’s never easy when you have an organisation who pride themselves on getting across the line when challenging times occur,” Penney said.

“It’s been a long, long time since we have been in this place, so it’s an opportunity to show a bit of fight and bottle.”

 

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