Crusaders flanker Tom Christie is set for a sideline spell for an undetermined length of time after dislocating his shoulder during his side’s 39-17 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday.
The 23-year-old was forced from the field in the second half of his side’s victory, with the Crusaders confirming on Monday that he “will undergo further investigation and specialist review over the next few days to determine the appropriate management.”
The news will be a bitter blow for the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, who are set to face-off against the Blues in a top-of-the-table clash at Eden Park in Auckland this weekend.
Since debuting for the franchise last year, Christie has become a key member of the Christchurch-based side, having started in eight of the Crusaders’ last eight Super Rugby Aotearoa matches as well as all six of their Super Rugby matches pre-COVID.
Impressing with his defensive work rate, the former New Zealand U20 captain and 2018 New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year earned selection in the South Island squad in last year’s North vs South clash in Wellington.
While he didn’t make the cut for the match day side, his inclusion in the South Island side is indicative of how highly he is regarded within the Kiwi rugby fraternity.
However, that won’t be of any consolation to the Crusaders, although they have a capable replacement in the form of promising Tasman flanker Sione Havili, who started at blindside flanker in the Chiefs match.
Christie isn’t the only loose forward casualty Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has had to deal with recently, as one-test All Blacks youngster Cullen Grace was as late withdrawal from the starting side to face the Chiefs due to sore ribs.
He is expected to be available for the Blues match, though, as could blindside flanker Ethan Blackadder, who missed the Chiefs match due to a head knock he picked up against the Hurricanes the week beforehand.
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