Mitchell Dunshea has recommitted to the Crusaders through 2023, despite there already being three All Blacks locks on the books.
Dunshea, who last year spent time with the All Blacks but wasn’t capped, joins Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett and Quinten Strange in committing to the Super Rugby champions for at least two more years.
The 25-year-old replaced Strange (also uncapped) in the All Blacks squad after he sustained an ankle injury at training ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations.
His signature follows Strange’s decision to stay put last month, despite acknowledging the intense competition for minutes with frontline All Blacks Whitelock and Barrett on board.
Dunshea is the ninth player to recommit to the Crusaders through 2023. In addition to the four second rowers, Jack Goodhue, Cullen Grace, David Havili, Braydon Ennor and Tom Christie are locked in.
Six more – Will Jordan, Joe Moody, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece and Mitchell Drummond – are contracted through 2022.
Notable players off the books at the end of this year include hooker Codie Taylor and wing Leicester Fainga’anuku, two of the team’s best players so far this season.
Loose forward Ethan Blackadder, halfback Bryn Hall, tighthead prop Michael Alaalatoa and rake Andrew Makalio are among a bunch of others yet to be re-signed.
Having missed the first couple games of the season due to illness, Dunshea scored a try in the Crusaders’ 39-17 bonus point win against the Chiefs in Christchurch last weekend.
Dunshea was an integral part of the Crusaders’ last year when Sam Whitelock was in Japan, starting all six games before the Covid-19 pandemic halted the competition.
Armed with the speed and ball-handling skills of an excellent loose forward, Dunshea was also required to step into the starting line up in Super Rugby Aotearoa, after a foot injury ruled out Barrett for the entire campaign.
Dunshea started six matches alongside Whitelock, ensuring the Crusaders’ engine room didn’t miss a beat en route to an 11th title.
Born in Hamilton, Dunshea’s family moved south when he was young, and he was schooled at Lincoln High School.
He was a member of the New Zealand under-20 squad in 2015, a couple of years before he made his Crusaders debut.
This content was originally published here.