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London Wasps sign Crusaders Flanker

London Wasps have added more fire-power to their forward pack with the signing of Jonathan Poff from the Canterbury Crusaders.

The former New Zealand Schools and Under-21 representative made his debut for the Crusaders in 2009 and has featured throughout this season. He scored his first try against the Lions at AMI Stadium in 2010.

A specialist openside flanker who can also pack down at number 8, Poff has been a regular in the Crusaders squad this season, and is seen as a strong understudy for All Black captain Richie McCaw.

Poff has impressed as a tough foraging back row player with a huge appetite for work on the pitch and as he also captains Tasman in the Air New Zealand Cup, he will bring with him strong leadership experience in a high quality performance environment.

Poff has been with the Crusaders since 2007 but injury limited his chances in his initial season. He played his first game for the Crusaders off the bench in the tight victory over the Stormers in 2009 and got his first start in a crunch match over the Lions in Johannesburg after Richie McCaw was ruled out with a concussion.

Previously Poff was selected for the NZ Secondary Schools in 2001 and in 2004 played in the winning NZ Colts team at IRB Under 21 Rugby World Cup in Scotland.

Poff said: “This is a really exciting move for me. I am looking forward to a different challenge in England after a couple of years of good experience in Super Rugby. It’s been difficult to be behind such a great player as Richie McCaw and my opportunities to start games have obviously been less than I would have liked so I am coming to London Wasps with the aim of nailing down a regular spot in the team even though I know there is a lot of good back-row talent there.”

Poff will join a number of other new faces at the club next season. Arrivals announced so far are Jeremy Castex (Narbonne), Steve Thompson (Leeds), Ross Filipo ( Bayonne), Nicky Robinson (Gloucester), Ryan Davis (Exeter), Chris Mayor (Gran Parma), Simon McIntyre (Sale) and Chris Bell (Sale).

Chris Thomas, London Wasps Chief Executive said: “This is another strong addition to our pack for next season. Our coaches were very impressed with Jonathan’s work-rate and tenacity and he is an excellent signing for the club. He has excellent leadership qualities and having featured for a number of seasons in one of the best club sides in the world, he will bring a lot of top level experience to the squad.”