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Crusaders ready to say goodbye

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Crusaders set to farewell a trove of players on Saturday night

The Crusaders say the departure of a group of cherished players will have them playing with the same sort of emotion the Jaguares are likely to bring to the Super Rugby final in Christchurch.

Short-priced favourites to claim a third title on Saturday and a 10th in total, the Crusaders are wary of the sort of passion the underdog South Americans will bring to their maiden appearance in the decider.

While the Crusaders are renowned for their methodical, almost tunnel-vision approach, flanker Matt Todd said the looming last game for a number of acclaimed teammates will play a part this week.

Japan-bound All Blacks captain Kieran Read is the longest serving departee, having debuted in 2007.

Midfield back Ryan Crotty, prop Owen Franks and flanker Jordan Taufua have all notched a century of games in red and black while Todd himself has yet to commit to next season.

Captain Sam Whitelock is also taking next year off under a sabbatical in his NZ Rugby contract but will return in 2021.

Last year’s side didn’t have the same post-season cleanout although players admitted they had been inspired to win for retiring prop Wyatt Crockett, the most capped player in Super Rugby.

Todd said sadness enveloped the team on Tuesday when Crotty was ruled out of the final with a fractured thumb suffered in last week’s 30-26 semi-final win over the Hurricanes.

“You’re gutted for him. It was his last game for us and he’s a massive part of the Crusaders. And I know how much the Crusaders mean to him,” Todd said.

“You hurt for him but he’s still around the team and as positive as ever so that will be on our minds through the week.”

Crotty and fellow-All Black Scott Barrett (finger) are both missing and likely to be replaced in the starting side by newly selected All Blacks back Braydon Ennor and lock Mitchell Dunshea respectively.

Todd expected the newcomers to step in seamlessly.

“You can’t replace world class players just like that,” he said.

“But we trust the whole squad. Everyone’s had opportunities this year and they’ve performed so I guess you plan for that all year.”

– AAP

WATCH: Matt Todd discusses how the Crusaders will handle their latest injury setbacks

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Crusaders set to farewell a trove of players on Saturday night