Gloucester have signed Crusaders scrum-half Willi Heinz for 2015-16 season
Last Updated: 24/02/15 1:23pm
Gloucester have signed Crusaders scrum-half Willi Heinz.
The 28-year-old New Zealander will join Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and Callum Braley as scrum-half options for the Cherry and Whites from the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
Heinz, who has captained Canterbury in the ITM Cup and represented the Crusaders more than 50 times in Super Rugby, said he had been in talks with Gloucester for a number of years and was enticed by the opportunity to play in Europe.
"I've always taken an interest in the Premiership, it's hard, tough rugby and an outstanding competition. And there's the chance to play in Europe as well, which is an added draw,” Heinz told the Gloucester website.
"Since starting to talk to David (Humphreys, Gloucester Director of Rugby), I've started to watch as much of Gloucester as I can. They seem to play a really exciting brand of footy and the whole club seems pretty driven to get back to the top of the English game.
"It's my understanding that Gloucester traditionally is a stronghold of English rugby. That appeals to me and I'm excited about doing what I can to contribute to something like that.”
Humphreys said the addition of Heinz was key to the team’s playmaking options.
"Scrum half is a key position in any side and, with Dan Robson choosing to move on at the end of the season, we wanted to add some experience and strength in depth to our half backs,” he said.
"And that's going to be more important than ever next season with World Cup commitments and the nature of the domestic and European fixture calendar once that tournament is over.
"We've been speaking to him for quite some time now and I know that he's genuinely excited to be joining us. I think he's going to play a very key role over the next few years, not just in terms of how he plays but how he brings the best out of the people around him.”
Heinz has a lengthy comeback ahead of him after breaking his left leg while making a tackle in a pre-season game between the Crusaders and the Highlanders.
"It gives me real motivation going forward. I'm trying to get this leg right as quickly as possible so that, when I make the trip over to Gloucester, I'm fit, raring to go and ready to play my part straight away.”