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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 11:52 GMT
Crusaders recruit gridiron player
Philippe Gardent will make the switch from American Football to rugby league
Philippe Gardent will switch from American Football to rugby league
Celtic Crusaders have signed American Football player Philippe Gardent.

The 28-year-old Frenchman has represented his country at bobsleigh but has yet to play rugby league.

Gardent joins the National League One newcomers from Carolina Panthers, having previously played for three-time Super Bowl winners Washington Redskins.

Gardent, a linebacker who is seen as a prop in league, was spotted by fellow Frenchman Thibault Giroud, Crusaders' fitness and conditioning coach.

Gardent spent four seasons in NFL Europe including his last, in 2006, with Cologne.

I'm confident with the squad we have we can compete

Crusaders coach John Dixon

"Philippe is obviously going to attract a lot of interest, because he has such a different background," said Crusaders coach John Dixon.

"But he's a talented athlete who'll compare well with anyone in the sport.

"He's intelligent and a very strong player, so we hope he'll pick the game up quickly and make a valuable contribution to our campaign.

"It's obviously a tougher challenge than last season, but I'm confident with the squad we have we can compete.

"It's going to be a great season, and the players and coaches can't wait to kick it off."

The Crusaders - who hope to land a Super League licence for 2009 - have also signed a major sponsorship deal with Brains brewery.

The Bridgend-based club play a friendly against Harlequins on 26 January at the Brewery Field in preparation for their season opener on Friday, 1 February, away to Sheffield Eagles in the Northern Rail Cup.

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