The Canterbury Rugby Football Union Academy has finalised its intakes for the 2013 year and will be looking to continue its successful record of fostering and creating opportunities for Canterbury's top emerging rugby talent.
CRFU CEO Hamish Riach said the 2012 and 2013 ITM Cup and Crusaders squads are testimony to the success of the academy.
"Of the 33 players used in this year's ITM Cup campaign, 27 of them were either academy graduates or still in the academy programme. Of the initial Crusaders squad of 28 named for 2013, 22 of the players have come through the Academy system.
"This highlights the importance of the Academy programme in providing a succession of players from within the province and franchise," Mr Riach said.
Academy manager Richard Smith said he is particularly excited about the new year 1 intake for 2013.
"There is some truly outstanding talent in this group, with players that have already been involved in NZ Secondary Schools, NZ Schools Barbarians, the NZ U20's in 2012 and the NZ U20 trials for 2013.
"Our year 2 and 3s have all represented Canterbury from U20 and Women's through to ITM Cup, with Olivia Bird (y3) also trailing for the NZ Women's 7's team and Jono Kitto (y2) playing for the NZ U20s.
"Of note are Nepo Laulala (y2) and Jordan Taufua (y3) who have graduated to full Crusaders contracts - one of the key objectives of the academy programme - while recent graduate Rhys Llwyellen and Jamie Verran (y2) represented New Zealand at the Gold Coast World Series Sevens Rugby event," Mr Smith said.
2013 CRFU Academy members:
Year 1 - Fletcher Smith; Daniel Lienert-Brown; Broc Hooper; Joel Duffy; Taniela Manu; Scott Barrett; Matt Moulds; Richard Mo'unga; Mitchell Drummond; Lu Laulala.
Year 2 - Joe Taylor; Jamie Verran; Siate Tokolahe; Shayne Anderson; Nick Warehiko; Alex Hodgman; Rameka Uiti-Parakai; Jonno Kitto; James Schrader.
Year 3 - Mitch Graham; Tyrone Elkington; Hamish Catherwood; Olivia Bird; James Leintjes; Jed Brown; Ellery Wilson.