Willi Heinz signs with Gloucester Rugby Club

Feb 25 • Europe, General News, Super Rugby • 2496 Views • Comments Off on Willi Heinz signs with Gloucester Rugby Club

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Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby halfback Willi Heinz will head to England at the end of this year’s Investec Super Rugby season, to play for the Gloucester Rugby Club.

Heinz said he would find it really hard to leave his teammates at the Crusaders and Canterbury ITM Cup team behind, but it was time for a new opportunity.

“I have had the most amazing six years playing here in Canterbury and it is certainly not easy to make the decision to leave that chapter of your playing career behind. I feel privileged to have played with some of the world’s best players here, as well as making lifelong friendships. I have also been fortunate enough to have learnt from some world-class coaches, and I will always be grateful for that.

“However my family and I have decided that the end of this Super Rugby season is the right time to start a new chapter in our lives. Gloucester as a city and a rugby club appeals to me, and the fact that I have English descent through my grandmother makes it an even easier choice. I am looking forward to the challenge of playing somewhere new and the opportunity to continue to develop my game,” Heinz said.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder paid tribute to Heinz’s character and talent.

“There is no better team-man than Willi Heinz. He is a talented player who is only getting better, a gifted leader who earns the respect of all around him, and an amazing mate to everyone here. We will sincerely miss WIlli’s presence around here, but intend to enjoy every moment we have with him this season,” Blackadder said.

Canterbury Head Coach Scott Robertson said Heinz could leave knowing he’d made his mark on Canterbury rugby.

“Willi is the sort of player who doesn’t just look to improve himself, he looks to improve a whole team, and he did that in his time here in Canterbury. He did an awesome job as vice-captain in 2013 and Canterbury captain in 2014 until injury ended his season. Any team that Willi plays for will be better for him being there, so we know he will thrive in Gloucester and we wish him the very best.”

Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby CEO Hamish Riach passed on the best wishes of both organisations.

“Willi is quite simply an outstanding man, liked and respected by anyone who has had the pleasure of dealing with him. We feel honoured to have been able to call him a Crusader and a Canterbury man. On behalf of everyone here, I want to wish WIlli and his family all the best for the move ahead and to thank them for all they have done for these teams,” Mr Riach said.

Heinz, who suffered a season-ending leg break in the first warm-up game of this Crusaders campaign, will leave in July to take up a three year contract with Gloucester.

“I am still loving playing rugby so I hope to make a real contribution over there, and I will certainly be itching to go after having to spend this season on the sidelines. It’s not the way I’d have liked to close out my time playing for the Crusaders and Canterbury obviously, but I am still looking forward to seeing this Super Rugby season out with the team and contributing as much as I can from off the field,” he said.

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