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Meeting the Crusaders: Ellis, McKenzie & Fruean

Meeting the Crusaders: Ellis, McKenzie & Fruean

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Words Victoria Tait

Photography Robyn Wilson, Anywhere I Roam

Speaking with some of our favourite boys of the red-and-black jersey, Marty McKenzie, Robbie Fruean and Andy Ellis, Victoria Tait discovers their top style tips, travel destinations and why you don’t want to room with Wyatt Crockett.

My first impression of Andrew Ellis, Robbie Fruean and Marty McKenzie, is how impeccably well media trained these men are. They are professional athletes at the top of their game, role models for our younger generations, well spoken, and have an ability to make you feel at ease. It makes you wonder why rugby still holds a stigma of players as thugs, where the reality could not be further from this.

Halfback Andrew (Andy) Ellis, at 32, is one of the veterans of the team. A member of the Rugby World Cupwinning All Black side in 2011, this will be his eleventh year for the Crusaders. Andy has scored 134 Super Rugby points and is a Crusaders’ centurion. He is also an award-winning landscape gardener, a radio host and father of two, and now splits his time between New Zealand and Japan.

Midfield-back Robbie Fruean (28) is welcomed back to the Crusaders with open arms after a brief stint with the Chiefs in 2014. Known for his speed and agility, Robbie’s career started in 2007, when he represented New Zealand in the Under-19 Rugby World Championship, consequently named the IRB World Under-19 Player of the Year.

His career, however, was briefly put on hold due to a life-threatening illness called pancarditis, which causes inflammation of the heart. Robbie underwent open-heart surgery and then joined the Crusaders in 2010, when he came back fighting to become the joint leading try scorer and ITM Cup Player of the Year.

It might surprise you to know Robbie is also a barber by trade and known as the most stylish player on the team. He also has a passion for cooking.

First five-eighth/utility-back Marty McKenzie (23) has rugby in his blood. Born and bred in Invercargill, he is the older brother of Chiefs first five-eighth Damian McKenzie and cousin to former Maori All Black Robbie Robinson.

Marty made his Super Rugby debut in 2013 for the Blues, only a year after playing for New Zealand under-20s in the 2012 Junior World Championships. However, it was in 2014, when playing for Taranaki in the ITM Cup that Marty’s ability really shone. Known as a very versatile player with good kicking ability, Marty has also played for Taranaki in the 2014 ITM Cup, Maori All Blacks tour of Japan in 2014 and Chiefs in 2015.

Off the field, you are likely to spot Marty down at King of Snake, or having a hit on the golf course.