The Crusaders have signed former Blues and Highlanders backs Rene Ranger and Josh McKay ahead of their 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa (SRA) campaign.
According to the Stuff website, both have been brought in as injury replacements, with McKay confirmed as a replacement for All Black Braydon Ennor, who will miss SRA while he recovers from a ruptured ACL.
RANGER HAS SIX ALL BLACKS TEST CAPS
Ranger is expected to be on deck for at least three or four weeks of the competition, while wings George Bridge and Manasa Mataele recover from pectoral injuries.
Ranger, now 34, played 76 matches for the Blues between 2009-2017. He also has six All Blacks caps to his name.
A powerful runner, Ranger has the ability to play both in the midfield and on the wing.
Despite Bridge and Mataele being sidelined, the Crusaders have a number of experienced options at wing, including Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga’anuku, and now McKay.
RANGER MAY BE USED AS A CENTRE RATHER THAN WING
However, it’s in the midfield where Rene Ranger is most likely to be utilised.
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Confirmation McKay has landed a gig with the team he grew up aspiring to play for will be welcome news for those gobsmacked he didn’t secure a contract when the five New Zealand teams were named late last year.
The fact the Highlanders didn’t extend the 23-year-old beyond his three seasons in Dunedin didn’t go down well with some, particularly after he appeared to be finding his groove at Super Rugby level late last season.
SCOTT ROBERTSON CONVINCED HIM TO JOIN THE CRUSADERS
It’s understood the speedy fullback/wing attracted interest from other franchises, but Crusaders coach Scott Robertson convinced him to join the red and blacks.
The Crusaders play the Highlanders in a pre-season match in Temuka on February 12, followed by the Blues at Eden Park on February 20.
Their SRA season-opener is against the Highlanders in Dunedin on February 26.