World Rugby

Two Key Forwards Ready To Make Return To Crusaders' Engine Room

Two Key Forwards Ready To Make Return To Crusaders' Engine Room

Two experienced forwards, Joe Moody and Mitch Dunshea, both have recovered well from major injuries should be back on deck for the Crusaders in 2023.

Dec 9, 2022 by RugbyPass
Two Key Forwards Ready To Make Return To Crusaders' Engine Room

There's some good news on the injury front for the Crusaders ahead of the 2023 season.

Two experienced forwards, prop Joe Moody and lock Mitch Dunshea, both have recovered well from major injuries suffered this year and should be back on deck for the Super Rugby Pacific champions when the competition kicks off in February.

Moody, the first-choice All Blacks loosehead, managed six appearances for the Crusaders in 2022, before his season came to a premature end in the rescheduled fourth round of Super Rugby, when he ruptured his ACL against the Blues.

Dunshea, meanwhile, underwent surgery on a knee injury in March.

"Joe Moody looks exceptional, and so does [Mitch] Dunshea," said Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson on Thursday night. "They've worked really, really hard and are available pre-season for us to play, which gives them a great lead-in to have a good season.

"They were both big injuries in rugby ... so we're just really stoked. I'm just happy for them because their hard work is paying off. [They] look like they did pre-injury, so good signs."

After missing the opening half of last year's test season, Moody was forced out of this year's campaign in its entirety but still will be expected to play a major role at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

In the 34-year-old's absence, Ethan de Groot established himself as one of the best scrummagers in the global game and firmly entrenched himself in the New Zealand No. 1 jersey.

George Bower, Aidan Ross, Karl Tu'inukuafe and Ofa Tu'ungafasi also were given opportunities on the loosehead side of the scrum this year, but a fit Moody certainly would feature in Ian Foster's plans for 2023 - and that appears to align with Moody's aspirations.

"That is my goal for 2023; I want to be in the World Cup squad," he told Stuff earlier this week. "I want to be the best Joe Moody that you've ever seen. I just want to be in great state, that's definitely been the goal."

Dunshea, meanwhile, has been there, or thereabouts, when it's come to All Blacks squad over the past few years, with the 27-year-old earning temporary selection in 2020 but never taking the field. 

Foster heavily relied upon Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett throughout this year's campaign, rarely handing opportunities to backups Tupou Vaa'i and Patrick Tuipulotu, suggesting that there's still a glimmer of hope for aspiring second-rowers around New Zealand who harbor dreams of featuring at France 2023.

The 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season will kick off on Feb. 24, with the Crusaders playing host to the Chiefs in Christchurch.