All Blacks: Crusaders prop Fletcher Newell recounts ‘surreal’ moment he received international call-up

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Tighthead prop Fletcher Newell couldn’t quite comprehend the news when it was confirmed that he had been called into the All Blacks squad.

The front-row enjoyed a breakthrough campaign for the Crusaders in 2022, becoming a key part of their team as they claimed the Super Rugby Pacific title.

Oli Jager, who qualifies for Ireland as well as New Zealand, has been the Christchurch outfit’s first choice, but the 27-year-old has not been considered for the Rugby Championship.

Head coach Ian Foster has instead decided to bring in youngster Newell for the injured Ofa Tuungafasi, who has picked up a neck problem.

An awesome moment

“I missed a call from the All Blacks manager, he text me and said “hey it is the All Blacks manager here, give me a buzz”. I haven’t rung anyone as quick as that before,” the Crusaders prop said.

“It was pretty surreal when he gave me the news, it’s just an awesome moment. I really can’t put any words together at the moment.”

Newell’s thoughts were never on receiving an international call-up. Instead, he was totally focused on helping Canterbury prepare for the upcoming National Provincial Championship campaign.

Those priorities have unsurprisingly changed, however, as he joins up with the squad ahead of the start of the Rugby Championship.

“Tomorrow I’ll train with Canterbury, I’m looking forward to it to help the boys build for a pre-season game against Otago this week,” he said.

“Then on Friday, heading off (to South Africa).”

Another Crusader in the ranks

Newell added: “There is a number of Crusader All Blacks and a lot of leaders in that environment. I’m excited to connect with them.

“It is quite daunting but I can’t wait to get in there and learn from everyone. There are some really quality players in New Zealand, it’s going to be a great opportunity to learn.

“Me and Jason (Ryan, new All Blacks forwards coach) have a great relationship that we have built throughout the years, I’m really excited to get in there and continue to learn from him.

“He’s been a massive contributor to my growth (at the Crusaders) and I can’t wait to keeping learning from him.”

READ MORE: Jordie Barrett ‘needs to step up’ in the Rugby Championship

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