The Crusaders have re-signed a number of their players who come off contract at the end of this season, including centre Robbie Fruean.
Wyatt Crockett's re-signing until the end of 2018 was announced earlier this week, and versatile midfield back, Ryan Crotty, has also signed up until the end of 2017. Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder said both players would play an important role in next year's squad both on and off the field, as two of the senior members of the squad.
Joining Crockett and already-contracted Owen Franks at prop again next season will be Tim Perry. Perry has had a frustrating season on the sidelines after an injury sustained in the 2014 ITM Cup semi-final, however Blackadder said he is a quality player who is getting back to his best and he is sure that he'll be ready to make an impact in 2016.
Codie Taylor, who has impressed at hooker this year, will also return in 2016, with Blackadder saying he had made strides in his set-piece skills this season and his attacking abilities give him an exciting edge.
Young lock Scott Barrett will return in 2016 after being catapulted into the starting line-up at just 21 years of age and holding his own alongside All Black locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano. Blackaddder said he had more than proved himself and the Crusaders were excited about the future for Barrett.
Experienced half-back Andy Ellis and relative rookie Mitchell Drummond will continue to compete for the starting half-back spot in 2016.
Meanwhile outside back Fruean will be back in 2016, determined to show more of the flair that we saw in the few games he was able to play this season. Fruean had his season cut short by a fractured arm sustained in the third round, but made an impressive return from injury to assist his team to wins against the Hurricanes and Blues recently.
The Crusaders have also announced that three players in this year's Wider Training Group will be promoted to the full squad in 2016 – utility back David Havili, fly-half/full-back Richie Mo'unga and loose forward Jed Brown.