Crusaders train with injury worry

CHRISTCHURCH – The Crusaders Super Rugby team play the waiting game with concussed Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty for this weekend’s fixture.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read, meanwhile, is hoping to return for the Crusaders next month.

Wyatt Crockett, Seta Tamanivalu and Mike Delany flew the All Blacks’ flag as a Crusaders squad decimated by absentee internationals during training on Monday.

While captain Whitelock and Ryan Crotty had to be scratched after suffering head knocks in the 29-19 loss to the Hurricanes last weekend, 13 others from the Super Rugby champions joined seven Highlanders players in attending the All Blacks “foundation day” for South Island players at the Christchurch Rugby Club.

With so many men in the clutches of All Blacks management, loosehead prop Crockett, wing Tamanivalu and first five-eighths Delany were the only souls with Test caps to continue working at the Crusaders.

Whitelock was not allowed to join his South Island-based team-mates at the All Blacks “foundation day” in Christchurch on Monday because he was still suffering concussion symptoms following the 29-19 loss to the Hurricanes.

It was odd to not see the usual familiar faces running about, and whether Whitelock and Crotty will be fit to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday night remains uncertain.

If the duo are ruled-out, it will mean the Crusaders will be without seven All Blacks, who have played almost 700 Super Rugby games between them, for the South Island derby.

“Everyone is a key player, but when you lose a captain (Whitelock) and a vice-captain (Crotty) a couple of minutes into a crunch game against the Hurricanes, you are going to be tested really severely,” Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar said.

“They all end up in a turnover. Well, how can we learn from that pressure, and make sure we don’t have that scenario again … We certainly had our opportunities and have only got ourselves to blame for the result in the end.”

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