The Crusaders will be without three experienced players – captain Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn and Leon MacDonald – for Saturday night’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The Crusaders website reports Flanker McCaw suffered a head knock in the round-one victory over the Chiefs last week and although he has improved significantly, according to concussion protocols he has not recovered sufficiently to play on Saturday.
Lock Thorn left AMI Stadium last week with a plantar fascia (heel) injury and will not play, while fullback MacDonald also went off early against the Chiefs with an A/C joint (shoulder) injury.
George Whitelock will play in the number seven jersey, with Isaac Ross coming in for Thorn and Stephen Brett for MacDonald.
Flanker Kieran Read will captain the side.
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder said McCaw was close to being available but was not quite 100 per cent.
“He has been following our concussion protocols this week and we’ve been monitoring him closely but the Crusaders management, along with Richie, have decided that he won’t play this week,” Blackadder said.
It was too early to say how long Thorn and MacDonald would be out for, he added.
Blackadder was confident the injured players’ replacements would step up against the Brumbies.
“George, Isaac and Stephen are quality players and this is a great opportunity for them,” he said. “You can never go through this competition without picking up injuries and, although having three experienced players out at the same time is unfortunate, I’m sure these young guys will make their presence felt.”
Loose forward Nasi Manu and back Ryan Crotty come on to the reserves bench.
6.Kieran Read (c)