Courageous Crusaders injury toll climbs more

02:30, Apr 01 2013
Dan Carter
Dan Carter flings it wide.
Crusaders
Crusaders win the lineout against the Blues at Eden Park.
Crusaders
The Crusaders gather behind their goal-line after conceding a try to the Blues.
Robbie Fruean
Robbie Fruean on the charge for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Kieran Read
Kieran Read looks on disconsolately after the Crusaders one-point loss to the Hurricanes.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against the Hurricanes.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter chases down the loose ball.
Crusaders v Bulls
Robbie Fruean celebrates his try as the Crusaders finally get a win this season over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Ryan Crotty makes a break during the Crusaders win over the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Tom Marshall fends off a Bulls tackle.
Crusaders v Bulls
Zac Guildford watches from the stands as the Crusaders beat the Bulls.
Crusaders v Bulls
Captain Kieran Read was a standout in the Crusaders win over the Bulls in Christchurch.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Zac Guildford runs the ball against the Kings.
Crusaders vs Kings
Dan Carter is a tackled by a Kings player.
Crusaders vs Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings.
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
The Crusaders score a try against the Kings
Crusaders 2013 Season
The Crusaders celebrate the win during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Crusaders celebrate the try of Matt Todd during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders 2013 Season
Matt Todd of the Crusaders scores a try during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Crusaders in Cape Town.
Crusaders v Sharks
Owen Franks is tackled during the Crusaders 21-17 loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Crusaders v Sharks
Andy Ellis scores a try during the Crusaders' loss to the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Franco van der Merwe of the Sharks out-jumps Sam Whitelock.
Crusaders v Sharks
The Sharks celebrate their win over the Crusaders in Durban.
Crusaders v Force
Israel Dagg is tackled by the Force's Junior Raolea.
Crusaders v Force
Sam Whitelock breaks a line during the Crusaders' loss to the Force.
Crusaders v Force
Luke Romano dives over for a try which would later be disallowed.
Crusaders v Force
Robbie Fruean fends off Kyle Godwin as the Crusaders went down to the Force in Perth.
Crusaders gallery
The Crusaders celebrate after scoring a try against the Highlanders.
Crusaders gallery
Luke Whitelock charges into the Highlanders defence.
Crusaders gallery
Israel Dagg tries to evade the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Zac Guildford chases after the loose ball.
Crusaders gallery
Owen Franks of the Crusaders charges into Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Ben Funnell is taken in the tackle by the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter made his return to action for the Crusaders against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
George Whitelock leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for the game against the Rebels.
Crusaders gallery
Dan Carter is taken in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Ryan Crotty on the charge against the Brumbies.
Crusaders gallery
Sam Whitelock gets a pass away in the tackle.
Crusaders gallery
Robbie Fruean (left) and Joe Moody celebrate after the Crusaders win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Andy Ellis talks to the crowd after being presented with a mere in recognition of playing 100 games for the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Dan Carter unleashes a kick for the Crusaders against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Sam Whitelock takes breather during the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013 gallery
Crusaders fans show their support for the team in the clash against the Blues.
Crusaders 2013
Ben Funnell spins the ball wide against the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Zac Guildford (centre) and the Crusaders lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Crusaders 2013
Andy Ellis surveys his options from the base of the scrum against the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2013
Tom Taylor attempts a shot at goal against the Chiefs.
Crusaders season 2013
Dominic Bird of the Crusaders attended to by the team doctor during his side's Round 16 clash with the Waratahs in Christchurch.
Crusaders season 2013
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders passes the ball back to Kieran Read under pressure from Waratah Kane Douglas.
Crusaders season 2013
Luke Romano wins a lineout for the Crusaders against the Waratahs.
Crusaders season 2013
Michael Hopper of the Waratahs makes a charge against the Crusaders at AMI Stadium.
Super Rugby Gallery
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders is tackled by Ben Smith of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is dumped by Ma'a Nonu of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Ben Smith jumping in the air for the ball with Crusaders Matt Todd & Dan Carter.
Super Rugby Gallery
Highlanders player Hosea Gear being tackled by Crusaders players Dan Carter (left) & George Whitelock.
Super Rugby Gallery
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled by Kade Poki of the Highlanders during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg celebrates.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders first five-eighth Dan Carter.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders Kieran Read on his way to the try-line.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Kieran Read runs out at AMI stadium.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg takes off.
Crusaders vs Chiefs
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty tries to escape Chiefs flanker Sam Cane.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Kieran Read leads the Crusaders on to AMI Stadium for their final regular season game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Halfback Willi Heinz gets a kick away against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Brothers Ben (left) and Owen Franks catch up after going head to head for the Hurricanes and Crusaders.
Crusaders gallery 2013
Dan Carter gestures to an assistant referee during the game against the Hurricanes.
Crusaders vs Reds
Ryan Crotty dives over to score for the Crusaders.
Crusaders vs Reds
Dan Carter strolls over the line to score a try.
Crusaders vs Reds
Richie McCaw looks on from the Crusaders bench during his side's Super Rugby qualifier with the Reds.
Crusaders vs Reds
Sam Whitelock takes on the Reds defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Liam Messam takes on the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Lelia Masaga has a cut at the Crusaders defence.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Asaeli Tikoirotuma is downed by Owen Franks.

The Crusaders have paid a heavy price for yesterday's epic 19-14 victory over the Stormers in Cape Town, losing wing Johnny McNicholl and tighthead prop Owen Franks to injury.

McNicholl's Super Rugby season is finished after he fractured a fibula bone in his left leg and Franks will be unavailable for Saturday morning's match against the Sharks in Durban because of rib cartilage damage.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said McNicholl's injury meant he would be out for "four or five" months. Telusa Veainu will join the squad as cover.

Crusaders
Crusaders, from left, Andy Ellis, Ryan Crotty and Tom Marshall soak up their success against the Stormers.

It is hoped fullback Israel Dagg, who has missed the last two matches because of a hamstring strain, will be fit to play the Sharks.

But first five-eighth Dan Carter, who became a father for the first time last week, will not join the squad in South Africa and should link up for their final tour match against the Western Force in Perth.

Another playmaker, Tom Taylor, missed the Stormers' game because of a knee injury but there is good chance he will be available to back up Tyler Bleyendaal in Durban.

Advertisement

The loss of Franks means Blackadder will have to consider whether to start specialist tighthead Nepo Laulala against the Sharks or start Wyatt Crockett after he performed so well when he shifted from loosehead to replace his injured fellow front rower.

"His contribution was just immense," Blackadder said in reference to Crockett.

"Only if you have ever been there could you truly understand what an effort that was. Our set piece never went backward - he did a great job."

Although openside flanker Matt Todd scored their only try, with first-five Bleyendaal topping up their account by kicking five of six shots at goal, this was the Crusaders' finest performance of the season.

Outstanding defence, due to the trust in their systems and a burning desire to scramble their way out of strife, enabled them to parry away the Stormers' attacks in the final 10 minutes.

"We respect the Stormers and I think everyone had written the Crusaders off - apart from ourselves," Blackadder said.

"The internal motivation was to go out there and put a great performance on the track and I felt we did that."

George Whitelock proved an able commander in the absence of injured Kieran Read; he kept his mob calm when they trailed 11-0 in the first half and, more importantly, ensured his actions set the standard by being a figure of perpetual motion in the tackle and carrying the ball.

Brother Sam repeatedly raided the Stormers' lineout throws and the disintegration of this vital source of possession did little for the home side's confidence.

The Crusaders' self-belief swelled as they realised they were a real chance of causing a boilover and that was evident in the way halfback Willi Heinz thrived behind his belligerent pack.

Bleyendaal proved there is no need to go rushing Tom Taylor who wasn't considered for this match because of his knee injury.

Blackadder was positive the rugged encounter and the six-day turnaround won't detract from their effort against the Sharks.

"I don't think we will be out of gas at all," Blackadder said. "I think against the Sharks we can open up a bit more. We can play a higher, faster up-tempo game. There's plenty in the tank."

The Press