The Crusaders have suffered a double injury blow in the midfield, with Robbie Fruean and Ryan Crotty set to miss the start of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Fruean, who has endured an injury-plagued career, tore a pectoral muscle during a pre-season gym session and is only expected to make his return some time in April.
Meanwhile, Crotty is still recovering from a finger injury and is set to miss the first two matches of the Crusaders’ season.
Nevertheless, coach Todd Blackadder said he believed they had the necessary depth to deal with the injury absentees.
'[Fruean] is pretty tough, he's had to deal with these things before. He takes it in his stride. He was just doing weights in the gym, it was at a testing level. It's really disappointing to lose a guy [who was] not out in the field of battle.
'We've got a few injuries we could focus on but we're not. We're just going to focus on the guys that are fit and ready to go. I'm still really confident that we've got enough depth to cover those positions.'
The Crusaders will open their campaign against the Chiefs on 27 February.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport