Crusaders bring in Ralph for Laulala



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The Crusaders have suffered a blow in that Casey Laulala failed an impact test which has cleared the way for Ralph to take his place in the number 13 jersey.

Ralph will now start in Laulala’s place and he will try to equal the Super rugby try-scoring record.

A decade ago Ralph scored just the fourth try of his Super rugby career playing for the Blues in Christchurch and now ten years later the 12-season veteran will make the 124th appearance of his Crusaders career against the Blues at AMI Stadium

Ralph’s appearance tally is now just two short of the Crusaders record of 126 appearances, held by the currently injured former skipper Reuben Thorne.

‘The result of the [impact] test showed that Casey wasn’t back to one hundred percent, and there was never any chance that we were going to take a risk with him if that was the case,’  coach Robbie Deans says on the Crusaders website. .

‘It is tough luck for Casey, but another opportunity for Caleb. We’re just lucky to have some a player as capable as he is, to step in and fill the breach.’

With Laulala having not participated in full contact training since his head clash with Chiefs centre Dwayne Sweeney last Friday night, Ralph has been running at centre for Crusaders training anyway.

Super rugby’s longest serving player, Ralph scored three tries fresh out of school in his debut campaign as a Chief in 1997, before grabbing another three a year later for the Blues.

This included a try against the Crusaders, at the old LancasterPark, during the Blues’ 31-24 win in 1998.

Ralph joined the Crusaders the following season, and has since become the first player to post 50 tries for the franchise ‘ with his haul for the team currently standing at 52.

This total includes the two tries he has already scored this term, during the wins over the Cheetahs and the Lions, which have taken his overall Super rugby tally to 58 ‘ one short of that gathered by the current record holder, former All Black and Blues winger Doug Howlett.

Ralph will be one of three Crusaders, who have previously appeared for the Blues, involved tomorrow night. The others are lock Ali Williams and No 8 Mose Tuiali’i.

Meanwhile less than 4000 tickets remain for the highly anticipated clash which is shaping as a do or die contest for the visitors, as far as their semi-final prospects are concerned.   

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