Manawatu Turbos prop Michael Alaalatoa has signed a one-year deal with the Crusaders ahead of their 2016 Super Rugby season.
Alaalatoa joined his younger brother Allan, at the Brumbies for their 2014 Super Rugby season, but a lack of game time prompted the move to New Zealand joining the Manawatu Turbos in the ITM Cup.
The move, however, has paid off as he was awarded a Super Rugby contract at the Crusaders after impressive performances for Manawatu Turbos caught the attention of Crusaders forwards coach Dave Hewett.
"We’ve been keeping a close eye on the options at tighthead prop since Nepo Laulala’s decision to shift to the Chiefs, and Michael has been one who has really stood out," said Hewett.
"He’s put in some impressive performances for the Turbos and, importantly, has really grown across the season. It’s obvious that he is working hard on his game and is ambitious and determined to succeed. That's what really attracted us to him, he already has an impressive physical demeanour but he also has a great attitude."
The Crusaders front row stock are running low after Tasman Prop Tim Perry, who injured his ACL, was ruled out for the first leg of the 2016 Super Rugby Season.
Perry's injury however presents Alaalatoa with a opportunity to fight for spot.
"We’ve talked to Michael already about the opportunity that is there for him and the fact that the opportunities are not just on the playing field – it’s about how he trains and prepares every week. He has embraced that challenge and we know that he is committed to continuing to grow his game to step up to the next level," Hewett said.
Alaalatoa says that to be a part of the Crusaders team is a dream come true, and he believes that he will thrive and improve as player, playing for the Christchurch based team.
"I have moved to New Zealand this year in the hope of improving my game and gaining a Super Rugby contract, so to have achieved that with the BNZ Crusaders is a dream come true. The Crusaders have produced some of the best props in the world in recent years, so I know that I am going to the right place to learn and improve. I can’t wait to join the team and start preparing for the season ahead," Alaalatoa said.