The NSW Waratahs have bolstered their forward pack with the signings of Geoff Cridge and Hamdan Tuipulotu ahead of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Cridge, born and raised in Christchurch, attended Christchurch Boys High School and represented New Zealand U20’s before moving north to sign for the Hurricanes under Chris Boyd, making his Super Rugby debut for the side during their 2016 Championship winning season.
Cridge – who cuts an imposing figure at just over 200cm – further strengthens Darren Coleman’s depth at lock, following the return of Jed Holloway for the 2022 season.
After a couple of seasons of playing provincial rugby in New Zealand, Bridge was excited to be playing Super Rugby again.
“The last two years I’ve had off I’ve had an itch to play Super Rugby, so to get another chance here at the Waratahs is something I’m definitely going to make the most of,” Cridge said.
“There’s a good group of lads here, everyone gets around each other and stays really connected. No-one is bigger than the team and it’s a great environment to be a part of and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
After an impressive season for Hawke’s Bay in the ITM Cup in 2021 where he was awarded the team’s best forward award, Waratahs’ Head Coach Darren Coleman saw enough of the big lock to bring him to the Waratahs.
“Obviously I’m massive fan of the Shute Shield and it will always be my first port of call for talent – however it’s been no secret that within this team we have been on the lookout to find a high-quality tight head lock, and unfortunately we were unable to find one there,” Coleman said.
“Geoff Cridge comes to us from New Zealand where he’s performed strongly over the past two seasons with Hawkes Bay in the ITM Cup.
“He fits the type of player we need at the tight head lock position, bringing plenty of size and experience, and we’re excited to see him compete with the guys we have here in Jed Holloway, Max Douglas, Jeremy Williams and Hugh Sinclair .
“We’re also delighted that he’s decided to choose West Harbor as his Shute Shield club, where he will be a real asset to their rugby program.”
Hamdan Tuipulotu, brother of All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu, joins the Waratahs on an Extended Development Squad contract and will bolster the teams’ stocks at tight head prop.
“The Waratahs are a world class team and I’m excited to be here. It was definitely an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Hamdan said.
“From the outside looking in, the last few years seemed tough, but there’s so much potential here and a great coaching staff and I can’t wait to see what we can do on the field.”
Darren Coleman was excited at Tuipulotu’s potential and was delighted to bring him into the Waratahs wider squad.
“We had some unforeseen personnel losses at prop and needed to strengthen our squad in that area,” Coleman said.
“We liked what we saw from Hamdan and worked hard with Western Sydney Two Blues to bring him across to Sydney.
“We view Hamdan as a project player for the future and feel he will contribute strongly to not only our program but also the Western Sydney Two Blues and their resurgence in the Shute Shield.”
The Waratahs take on the Brumbies in their first trial match of 2022 at Bowral Rugby Club on Saturday 29 January.