Leicester Tigers’ new signing Jordan Taufua has been described as “a beast on the field and a great man off it” by his rugby bosses in New Zealand.
Tigers announced on Friday that back-rower Taufua will trade southern-hemisphere rugby with the Crusaders for Tigers in the East Midlands next season in a move warmly welcomed by the #TigersFamily.
The 27-year-old begins his seventh season with the Crusaders next weekend and has made 81 appearances in Super Rugby as well as playing with Canterbury, Tasman and Counties Manukau.
He follows a path from Christchurch previously taken by the likes of Scott Hamilton, Aaron Mauger and Thomas Waldrom.
BNZ Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said: “Jordan brings energy to our Crusaders group like no other – he’s a beast on the field and a great man off it.
“We know he’s a special rugby player, but it’s his community work and unique connection to our fans that makes him a special person as well. While we’ll certainly miss having him around in 2020, we respect his decision and our job as a team is to put a champion Crusader on the podium one last time.”
Taufua said he felt it was important to make the transfer announcement ahead of the new Investec Super Rugby campaign to allow him to focus on making the most of his final season in red and black.
“The New Zealand rugby environment isn’t easy to leave, and the support I’ve had from team-mates, management and fans over the years made this a difficult decision,” he said.Jordan Taufua
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to wear the Crusaders and Mako jerseys over a long period of time, but this is the next step in my rugby career. It’s an opportunity to experience the game over the other side of the world and tackle a new challenge which is exciting for both myself and my family."
Taufua celebrated a first call-up to the All Blacks squad last season but missed out on a chance to play for the national side due to injury.
“It was a dream come true to be named in the All Blacks for the first time and, while it was disappointing not to take the field, I still have aspirations to pull on the black jersey this year. Between that goal, and the opportunity to win another Super Rugby title with the Crusaders, I’m looking forward to throwing all of my energy into 2019,” said Taufua who previously gained age-group honours with both Samoa and New Zealand.
“Jordan represents what it means to be a Crusader – he is hard-working, dedicated, and his loyalty is endearing to fans.”Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge
Tasman Mako chief executive Tony Lewis added: “Jordan espouses all the characteristics of a ‘Mako Man’ – team man first, humility, trailblazer, unassailable grit and who-dares-wins attitude.
“He is a genuine leader on and off the pitch, and his loyalty has made him popular among staff and fans. We wish him all the best.”