Super Rugby 2019: Champion Crusaders optimistic despite player exodus

The Crusaders made it a fitting send-off for the handful of senior players set to leave the franchise with their win over the Jaguares in Saturday's Super Rugby final to claim their third-straight title.

Veterans Ryan Crotty, Matt Todd, Kieran Read, Owen Franks, and Jordan Taufua will all leave the red and blacks next season.

Sam Whitelock will also take a one-year hiatus - signing for the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan, before returning to Christchurch in 2021.

The 30-year-old captained the Crusaders to their ninth and 10th titles and was proud to send the departing players off with another win in the tournament's showpiece.

"I've played a lot of rugby with a lot of those guys," Whitelock said. "But the cool thing is a lot of the guys who are staying have learned so much of those guys [leaving] and hopefully that'll leave the team in a good place next year."

Coach Scott Robertson is pleased Whitelock has a chance to take a sabbatical.

"NZ Rugby is doing a great thing in giving him the opportunity to freshen up," Robertson said.

"He's done the grind for a long time, from the Crusaders to the All Blacks and it’s a chance for him to refresh and come back and that’s the big thing - he's coming back."

Kieran Read is finishing with the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby after the World Cup and says the side is still in a great space despite the number of people leaving.

"To go three in a row is very special, it's well set up," Read said.

"The Crusaders are always built around the work ethic and that what it will always be about - the guys who are coming back are well and truly in a great position - I can see it getting better."

First-five Richie Mo'unga is one of the players is staying with the club and is excited to carry on the Crusaders legacy.

"It's pretty special to be able to do it three times to create our own dynasty is something I'm proud of to be a part of," Mo'unga said.

To be sitting next to these two guys [Todd and Read] who have given so much to the province and to the jersey, to be able to send them off in this style - I'm just proud that they are able to walk out the doors with the trophy in hand.

"It's special to me knowing we did everything we could to send them out the right way.

"For the boys coming back - the dynasty doesn’t stop here it’s a challenge for us to keep it going."