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Tue 21 Jul 2020 | 08:22

Crusaders superstar ruled out for the season

Crusaders superstar ruled out for the season
Tue 21 Jul 2020 | 08:22
Crusaders superstar ruled out for the season

NEWS: The Crusaders’ squad depth is set to be tested this week following the revelation that All Blacks utility back David Havili has been ruled out for the remainder of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a fractured thumb.

It’s a significant blow for the reigning Super Rugby champions, with their vice-captain Havili finding himself in good form, particularly before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Emergency bowel surgery and the emergence of exciting youngster Will Jordan has made it difficult for Havili to regain a starting place in the side, which was often at fullback.

Capable of playing in the midfield, the three-test All Black also flourished at flyhalf against the Chiefs back in February, making a strong case early in the season for inclusion in Ian Foster’s first national squad.

He will instead join a growing injury list at the Christchurch franchise that already features the likes of squad captain Scott Barrett (foot), Cullen Grace (thumb) and Ethan Blackadder, who underwent knee surgery on Monday.

Promising young loose forward Grace was given a recovery timeframe of between six-to-eight weeks after sustaining a thumb fracture of his own against the Chiefs three weeks ago.

The 20-year-old required surgery for his injury, though, and it’s yet to be determined if Havili needs to undergo the same process.

“It’s a shame for them,” assistant coach Jason Ryan said to Stuff of Havili and Blackadder.

“They have both got a lot of respect in the group and were both looking forward to this next block, but it’s been taken from them. But that’s the game.”

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All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue also noted the influence Havili wielded over the team, highlighting his form, versatility and leadership qualities as some of the reasons why he’s such a big loss for the squad.

“He’s amazing that he can just cover 10 without even playing much there. Huge loss,” Goodhue told Stuff.

“He’s been in awesome form, playing some of his best rugby, busting tackles, creating things. And his leadership has been huge, he is a big talker, good communicator, and he always says what needs to be said.

“That will be a tough void to fill. But there is some great leaders in this team, and we seem to just keep trucking along, and we’ll make sure the next person taking that role will be clear and comfortable.”

The Crusaders’ growing injury list is indicative of the physical toll players have to endure in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Players across New Zealand have made no secret about the increased physical edge that comes with playing in Kiwi derbies, and the repercussions of having to play them every week over the course of two months is beginning to hurt the franchises.

Stuff & RugbyPass

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Crusaders superstar ruled out for the season | Rugby365