Crusaders' Read ruled out of South Africa tour

MARC HINTON
Last updated 11:55 25/03/2013
Kieran Read
Photosport
BIG LOSS: Kieran Read is out for up to four weeks with a toe injury.

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The Crusaders have suffered a massive setback for their daunting back-to-back assignment in South Africa, with in-form No 8 Kieran Read ruled out with a toe injury.

Read was withdrawn from the trip to South Africa, after the injury he suffered late in Saturday night's 55-20 win over the Southern Kings in Christchurch turned out to be worse than first thought.

Scans on Sunday revealed the All Black No 8, who has been playing some superb rugby, has suffered a partial tear of ligaments under a big toe. Read is expected to be out of the game for a minimum of four weeks and has stayed in Christchurch to receive treatment.

That's seen Tasman-Canterbury loose forward Jordan Taufua replace Read in the 26-strong travelling squad and Saturday night's hat-trick hero George Whitelock assume the captaincy.

Read's defection is a major setback on a tour that will see the Crusaders meet South Africa's top two teams in the Stormers and Sharks and then tackle the resurgent Force in Perth on the way back to New Zealand.

Read's omission from the tour came as a major surprise, after team officials indicated after the game they thought his injury was not serious.

"It is hugely disappointing that Kieran cannot join the team to South Africa," said coach Todd Blackadder after confirming his travelling squad via a media release today

"He has been playing some brilliant rugby this season and it is unfortunate that this injury will keep him out of the game."

The Crusaders are already without their two most experienced All Blacks, with Richie McCaw still on a sabbatical and Dan Carter taking parental leave.

The Crusaders have won back-to-back games in Christchurch to turn their season around after consecutive road defeats to New Zealand opposition to open the season.

But they now face a major challenge in South Africa minus their talismanic No 8. The Stormers have just completed back-to-back home victories over the Chiefs and Brumbies to get their season back on track, while the Sharks sit on top of the South African conference with four victories.
Crusaders squad: Dominic Bird, Tyler Bleyendaal, Shane Christie, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Tom Donnelly, Andy Ellis, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Nepo Laulala, Tom Marshall, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Tom Taylor, Matt Todd, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock. 

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