Dan Carter no-show for Highlanders
All Blacks Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and Dan Carter are not expected to be available for the Crusaders' pre-season match against the Highlanders in Oamaru on Friday afternoon.
Read, who will captain the Crusaders in the absence of Richie McCaw this season, and Dan Carter will be given more time to concentrate on their pre-season training, while Whitelock is still nursing a minor shoulder complaint.
All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks and hooker Corey Flynn are unlikely to play, but Luke Romano and Wyatt Crockett, who toured the northern hemisphere with the All Blacks late last year, should make their first appearances of the season.
'' 'Reado' will have another week off just to get his body right because he has a fairly high workload,'' Crusaders forwards coach Dave Hewett said.
''He needs to have that condition put back on him before he actually takes the field. A lot of it is about managing the player, rather than being concerned about the injuries.''
Whitelock's injury is not serious.
''He probably won't get a run,'' Hewett said.
''He is almost fully back from a shoulder complaint he had. He will be given a bit of time to go through a full rehab process and game conditioning process before we drop him in the deep end.''
Although Franks played the opening quarter of last weekend's match against the Hurricanes in Timaru, Hewett said, he was always likely to be rested for this match.
A pre-season planning meeting between head coach Todd Blackadder, Hewett and Franks determined he would follow this programme.