The NSW Waratahs have bolstered their front pack with the signings of Geoff Cridge and Hamdan Tuipulotu ahead of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Born and raised in Christchurch, Cridge attended Christchurch Boys High School and represented the New Zealand U20s before moving north to sign for the Hurricanes under Chris Boyd, making his Super Rugby debut for the side during the winning season of the 2016 championship.
Cridge – who cuts an imposing figure at just over 200cm – further amplifies Darren Coleman’s depth at the lock, following Jed Holloway’s return for the 2022 season.
After a few seasons of provincial rugby in New Zealand, Bridge was delighted to be playing Super Rugby again.
“The last two years I’ve had off I’ve been itching to play Super Rugby, so to get another chance here at the Waratahs I’ll definitely make the most of it,” said Cridge.
“There’s a good group of guys here, everyone is walking around each other and really staying 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 2021 ITM Cup, where he received the team’s best forward award, Waratahs’ Head Coach Darren Coleman saw enough of the big lock to take him to the Waratahs.
“Of course I’m a huge fan of the Shute Shield and it will always be my first port of call for talent – but it’s no secret that within this team we were looking for a high-quality tight headlock, and unfortunately we couldn’t find one there” Coleman said.
“Geoff Cridge comes to us from New Zealand, where he has had a strong performance over the past two seasons with Hawkes Bay in the ITM Cup.
“He suits the type of player we need in the tight head-lock position, bringing a lot 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 are also delighted that he has 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, is joining the Waratahs on an extended development team contract and will bolster the teams’ stocks with a tight headrest.
“The Waratahs are a world class team and I am excited to be here. It was definitely an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” said Hamdan.
“From the outside the last few years have seemed difficult, but there is so much potential here and a great coaching staff and I can’t wait to see what we can do on the pitch.”
Darren Coleman was excited about Tuipulotu’s potential and delighted to bring him into Waratah’s wider squad.
“We had some unforeseen staff losses at prop and had to bolster our squad in that area,” Coleman said.
“We loved what we saw from Hamdan and have worked hard with Western Sydney Two Blues to bring him to Sydney.
“We see Hamdan as a project player for the future and feel he will contribute strongly not only to our program but also to the Western Sydney Two Blues and their revival in the Shute Shield.”
The Waratahs will face the Brumbies in their first test match of 2022 at Bowral Rugby Club on Saturday 29 January.