BY PETER JONES [Marlborough App]
Crusaders flags were flying high at two Marlborough schools today as three members of the defending Super Rugby champions paid a visit.
Matt Todd, Quinten Strange and Andrew Makalio were visiting the top of the south as part of the Crusaders’ regional partnership with Christchurch-based civil construction company Isaac Construction, who carry out work throughout the Crusaders franchise region, including Marlborough.
Crusaders' loose forward Matt Todd is flanked by Moutere rugby players Brodie Materoa, left, and Joseph O'Regan.
Former All Black Todd, Mako lock Strange and Makalio, a former Blenheim Harlequins player and fellow Mako, visited the Spring Creek and Rapaura Primary Schools, their visit also facilitated by the Moutere Rugby Club.
At both schools they participated in a question-and-answer session with the pupils and staff, then signed memorabilia, rugby balls, shirts and the myriad of Crusaders flags they had earlier handed out.
Five-year-old Lofia Peek meets Crusaders' hooker Andrew Makalio.
At Rapaura, an Isaacs-sponsored sausage sizzle catered for lunch and the players were treated to a spirited haka, led by year 8 pupil Cael Yockney, who enjoyed the chance to rub shoulders with the rugby stars.
"It was pretty fun,” said the 12-year-old, "we got to ask them some questions and I enjoyed finding out things about them.
The folk responsible for the Crusaders' visit, from left, Quinten Strange, Laurin Gane (Moutere RC), Matt Todd, Dave McCormick (Moutere RC), Kim Manisa (paving manager for Isaac Construction), Rapaura School principal Michelle Spencer, Andrew Makalio and Quintin Rolston (Isaac construction manager).
"We definitely appreciated [the visit], they were a bit bigger than what I expected. It was certainly a good idea to give out the Crusaders flags. Some of the kids don’t support the Crusaders but they might now that they have met them and got a signature … they are pretty friendly guys.”
Strange, originally from Nelson, said it was exciting to be back in the top of the south.
"I have been looking forward to this day for a couple of weeks since I have known we were coming. It’s good to get up in the Tassie region and give back to the kids and the community. Big thanks to Isaac Construction for making it happen.
"It’s good to try and get these kids on board as fans and hopefully one day some of them will push on and play for the Crusaders.”