Monday, February 11, 2008

Injuries already impacting Super 14 (TV3)
Mon, 11 Feb 2008 06:02p.m.

A ball is yet to be kicked in this season’s Super 14, but already injuries are making their impact, with the Crusaders among the worst affected as they prepare to face the Brumbies.

Just months after what must have been the biggest disappointment of their rugby careers, the Crusaders’ All Blacks say there will be no World Cup hangover this Super 14.

”People over Christmas haven’t been talking rugby and so we can finally get last year out of the way and get on with this year,” Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said.

With reconditioning now banished, the Crusaders are at full muster, though Reuben Thorne is out with a crook calf and several others have injury concerns, including star first-five Dan Carter, who has only had a limited role in pre-season hit-outs.

”Obviously I would have liked to have played in all three warm-up games,” Dan Carter said. “It wasn’t to be with my calf injury. Bit I got a bit of time against the Waratahs so I should be ready to go.”

All Black halfback Andy Ellis’ ankle injury means he is likely to start from the bench, with Kahn Fotuali’i set to make his super rugby debut.

”Kahn’s been part of our wider training group and he’s played in the preseason,” Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said. “So it’s a great opportunity for him.”

If fullback Leon Macdonald can shrug off a knee injury, he will become the fifth Crusader to chalk up the ton in the red and black jersey.

”I think I’ve been very lucky and I genuinely enjoy playing rugby like I did when I was five or six,” Macdonald said.

The Crusaders open their campaign at home on Friday against a Brumbies team, without institutions George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Stirling Mortlock.

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