The Crusaders are reportedly in talks with Kiwi sprint sensation Eddie Osei-Nketia regarding a potential cross-code switch.
The 20-year-old has been overlooked by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for a place at the Tokyo Games on the basis it didn't foresee him as a contender to finish in the top 16 in the coveted men's 100m sprint.
Osei-Nketia had failed to meet the Olympics qualification time of 10.05s, but was still eligible for selection via the new Tokyo 2020 system, which is based on world rankings and regional performances.
Since his head-turning 100m title wins in the New Zealand and Australian champs as a 17-year-old, Osei-Nketia has been open about his rugby ambitions and, according to RugbyPass, his managment is in discussions with the franchise regarding his development as a player.
"Last week, my manager told me that the Crusaders were actually keen on me and he said that Scott Robertson wanted to have a chat with me," Osei-Nketia tells RugbyPass.
"I haven't heard from him yet, but I'm assuming he’s a busy guy. I haven’t heard anything, yet, from anyone else."
A Crusaders spokesperson has verified they've spoken with Osei-Nketia regarding "opportunities and pathways" for him to further his growth as a rugby player.
"I can confirm Eddie’s management team reached out to the Crusaders about his desire, having missed out on Olympic selection, to pursue a professional career in rugby," the spokesperson tells Rugby Pass.
"These were preliminary discussions to explore what opportunities and pathways are available to Eddie, to fulfil his athletic potential within a high performance rugby environment.
"However, these conversations have not extended to the possibility of bringing Eddie to the Crusaders, so it wouldn't be appropriate to for us to comment further."
Growing up in Australia, Osei-Nketia starred for Canberra's St Edmunds College at high school level, before transferring to Wellington's Scots College. In 2019, he attended a sevens scouting camp run by NZ Rugby.
"I've actually been thinking about it a lot, wearing the red and playing down in Christchurch in the cold," he says.
"It'd be a massive honour to play for one of the best teams of all-time in Super Rugby, helping them out and being a part of the Christchurch community."
While he realises there's a long road ahead before there's any chance of being a fully fledged member of the Crusaders, Osei-Nketia insists he's ready to put in the hard work.
"I need to make sure that I’m always studying and putting my mind on small things so I can get there one day," he says.
"It looks like a pretty elite academy that can transfer rugby players to elite rugby players. If I go through the academy, I believe that I could change into a very, very talented rugby player."