The Blues lost lock Bayden Wardlaw just days after the New Zealand Super Rugby squads were announced while Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea yesterday revealed he won’t be getting any time on the paddock in the former stages of the competition. Now, the Crusaders have also announced they won’t have their full contingency available when the 2020 season kicks off.
Loose forward Ethan Blackadder will be out of action early on for the 2019 champions due to shoulder surgery.
24-year-old Blackadder played a major role in Tasman’s unbeaten Mitre 10 Cup campaign and started in the Mako’s semi-final win over Auckland.
Whilst Retallick was able to escape without requiring surgery, Blackadder hasn’t been quite so lucky.
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Handy on both the blindside flank and at the back of the scrum, Blackadder has notched up seven appearances for the Crusaders over the past two seasons. Although his return to date may not appear too impressive, Blackadder has been competing with the likes of Tom Sanders, Jordan Taufua, Kieran Read and Whetu Douglas for game-time at Super Rugby’s most successful franchise.
Many have touted the uncompromising forward as an All Black-in-waiting – which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, given the pedigree of the man.
Blackadder is the son of former All Blacks loose forward Todd Blackadder, who earned 71 caps for the Crusaders over a six-year period. Blackadder Snr also spent eight years as head coach of the Crusaders but his time in charge came to an end just two years before Ethan joined the side’s ranks.
With Sanders and Douglass still on the books, as well as the arrival of Cullen Grace, Ethan Roots and Sione Havili, the Crusaders won’t struggle to cover for Blackadder’s absence.
For the man himself, however, the surgery will be a major setback, with 2020 likely targeted by Blackadder as a potential breakthrough year.
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