Depleted Crusaders refuse to raid infirmary

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 07:22
Large crusaders players v highlanders 2018 800

REACTION: The defending Super Rugby champions Crusaders have ruled out raiding the All Blacks infirmary despite suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in three years. 

A patched-up Crusaders slipped to third in the New Zealand conference, raising early questions about their chances of a successful title defence, when beaten 17-25 by the Highlanders on Saturday, a week after a 19-29 loss to the Hurricanes.

The most successful franchise in Super Rugby history have been hamstrung by an alarming injury toll which has put seven All Blacks out of action including team captain Samuel Whitelock and All Blacks skipper Kieran Read along with backline general Ryan Crotty. 

But assistant coach Brad Mooar ruled out Sunday any attempt to pressure players to make an early return.

Read, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Israel Dagg are not expected back until mid-April, Whitelock and Crotty will return when concussion symptoms clear and Richie Mo'unga is unlikely to have recovered from his broken jaw for another month. 

"The answer is a clear 'no'," Mooar said when asked if some players could return ahead of schedule. 

"When they are ready, then we will think about picking them. If a player is injured and unable to play, then that is a medical scenario and we will totally respect it."

Despite the makeshift look of the side, the Crusaders' coaches claimed they were disappointed with the result but not the performance against the Highlanders. 

"If you had asked me four weeks ago if I would put this team out, I would have thought 'wow, really?'" head coach Scott Robertson said.
"I thought we generally had chances to win. We just didn't take our key moments. The scrum went well, the line-out was good for the majority of it." 

The unbeaten Highlanders lead the New Zealand conference three points clear of the Hurricanes who pip the Crusaders on points differential.

The last time the eight-times champion Crusaders lost two matches in a row was when beaten by the Highlanders and Chiefs in April 2015.

Agence France-Presse

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Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 14h15 Paris
Fri, 27 April 2018
Munster v Ulster 22h00 Thomond Park
Kings v Cheetahs 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Treviso v Zebre 22h00 Stadio Monigo
Dragons v Scarlets 22h00 Rodney Parade
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Myreside
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Connacht v Leinster 22h00 Sportsground
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Wasps v Northampton Saints 22h00 Ricoh Arena
London Irish v Saracens 22h00 Madejski Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 22h00 Welford Road
Gloucester v Bath 22h00 Kingsholm
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 22h00 Sandy Park
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Sun, 22 April 2018
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
Sharks v Bulls 10 | 40
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 8 5 1 2 24
Rebels 7 4 0 3 21
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 15
Reds 8 3 0 5 13
Sunwolves 8 0 0 8 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 6 0 2 29
Hurricanes 7 6 0 1 27
Highlanders 7 5 0 2 24
Chiefs 8 6 0 2 26
Blues 7 2 0 5 12
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 6 0 3 30
Bulls 8 4 0 4 19
Sharks 9 3 1 5 18
Stormers 9 3 0 6 14
Jaguares 7 3 0 4 12