Hurt XV: Super Rugby’s casualty catalogue
Are there going to be any healthy blokes standing by the time the Trans-tasman competition starts next month? There’s certainly going to be some significantly weakened New Zealand teams for the Aussies to get their teeth into at the current attrition rate.
Players are breaking almost every game, including high-profile All Blacks such as Sam Cane and Jack Goodhue, who won’t play again this year, and Ardie Savea, who is sidelined for up to eight weeks.
More than 30 players are injured across the five franchises ahead of round eight, with the Highlanders particularly hard hit. They’ve got nine players out of action, seven of them for the rest of the season, including outstanding halfback Folau Fakatava.
The day after Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was discussing his team’s relatively good fortunes on the injury front last weekend, the reigning champions lost Goodhue and fellow All Black Joe Moody within the space of five minutes of each other.
Things have eased on the injury front for the Chiefs, who were without 10 players only a few weeks ago, although they did lose midfielder Quinn Tupaea for up to eight weeks with a knee injury last weekend.
The Blues haven’t lost any key players to season-ending injuries during the season, but did lose hooker James Parsons to concussionenforced retirement ahead of the campaign, and it’s increasingly likely new recruit Dillon Hunt (concussion) doesn’t play this year.
Having canvassed the casualty ward, here’s Stuff’s broken XV.
Fullback: Connor Garden-bachop (Highlanders)
There’s a bit of Ben Smith about this 21-year-old. He’s a smooth runner with deceptive speed, and showed he’s good under the high ball before he broke his wrist against the Chiefs last week.
Wing: Braydon Ennor (Crusaders)
Ennor, who shifts to his old spot on the wing for the purpose of this team, hasn’t played since he ruptured his ACL playing in the North v South match last September, but the speedy utility back is set to play club rugby Saturday week ahead of his looming return.
Wing: Freedom Vaahakalo (Highlanders)
Another Highlander who barely got a run before succumbing to a seasonending injury (foot).
Centre: Jack Goodhue (Crusaders)
Hasn’t been at his absolute best this season, but the loss of the 18-test All Black, who can play both second fiveeighth and centre, to a nasty knee injury will be felt by both the national side and the Crusaders.
Second five-eighth: Thomas UmagaJensen (Highlanders)
This hard-running midfielder can’t take a trick. We got a brief glimpse of how good the twin brother of Peter UmagaJensen is in the Highlanders’ upset of the Crusaders earlier this month, before he broke his wrist in the same match.
First five-eighth: Jackson GardenBachop (Hurricanes)
The loss of Garden-bachop (Achilles) and Simon Hickey (knee) for the season has been crippling for the Hurricanes, who were forced to operate withmidfielder Orbyn Lorbyn at No 10. Rookie Ruben Love lastweek showed he could be the future.
Halfback: Folau Fakatava (Highlanders)
Dynamite is the most fitting word to describe Fakatava. He was outstanding for the Highlanders before rupturing his ACL against the Crusaders earlier this month. An All Black in waiting.
No 8: Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
Was still the best player on the paddock when playing on with a damagedmedial collateral ligament in his left knee against the Crusaders last week. Will miss 6-8 weeks.
Openside flanker: Sam Cane (Chiefs)
Had successful surgery on his torn pectoral muscle earlier this week, an injury he suffered during the Chiefs’ win over the Blues last week. The All Blacks skipper won’t play again until next year.
Blindside flanker: Liam Squire (Highlanders)
Managed about 20 minutes off the bench in each of the first two rounds, before he was scratched for the remainder of the season with a reoccurring knee injury.
Lock: Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues)
Sidelinedwith a pesky neck niggle the past couple of weeks, the Blues’ captain is expected to return against the Crusaders in Christchurch next week.
Lock: Pari Pari Parkinson (Highlanders)
The Highlanders were amuch better team when the physically imposing Parkinson returned from injury in round three. It’s just a shame he didn’t even get through three games before aggravating his surgically repaired ankle. Just how long he’s out for remains unclear.
Tighthead prop: Jermaine Ainsley (Highlanders)
Three-testwallabies propainsley picked up a high-ankle sprain during the preseason and he hasn’t been seen since.
Hooker: Andrew Makalio (Crusaders)
Had season-ending neck surgery before the season even started to repair an injury suffered while playing for Tasman last year. The Crusaders have missed his punch off the bench.
Loosehead prop: Joe Moody (Crusaders)
Had his 100th match for the Crusaders cut short by a foot injury suffered during a scrum. Another scan in a fortnight will determine whether hewill feature again this year.