No 8 Kieran Read cleared of major rib damage
Kieran Read's ribs are intact but there is no guarantee he will be fit for the Super Rugby playoffs.
No 8 Read, who was forced to retire with damaged ribs during the Crusaders' 28-21 win over the Chiefs last Friday night, was cleared of serious damage after an MRI scan yesterday.
However, he will not face the Western Force at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday night.
"There's some good news ... the fact he doesn't have any broken ribs – there's no fractures or anything there," Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said.
"He's still sore and we won't include him this week."
However, Blackadder admitted he was uncertain if Read would be available for the finals match – if the Crusaders qualify.
"I'm not really sure ... cartilage stuff can take a little while but I suppose the positive news is, it is not too serious. He is still a little bit sore but by giving him a week off gives him every chance to be right."
The Crusaders are not guaranteed a playoff spot but are at short odds to beat the lowly Force to secure the top "wild card" slot and host a sudden-death match in Christchurch.
Having Read back for that match, which will be played about July 20-21, will be a priority as the Crusaders eye their 11th straight semifinal the following weekend.
Blackadder yesterday said he was still pondering whether to start Luke Whitelock or Matt Todd at No8 rather than shift Richie McCaw from openside flanker.
Despite his inexperience Whitelock appears to be the logical option.
Although he can also play blindside flanker, he is familiar with No8, unlike Todd who is a specialist opensider.
Blackadder may want to give Whitelock the chance to start in case Read doesn't recover.
The Force, who lost 32-9 to the Blues last Saturday night, will decide later this week whether veteran lock and captain Nathan Sharpe will be available for what should be his final appearance for the side.
The veteran Wallabies lock, 34, was sorely missed in Auckland after withdrawing because of a back injury. The Force will also be without Wallabies flanker David Pocock because of injury.