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Crusaders to get Scott Barrett back earlier than expected for blockbuster clash

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Crusaders have confirmed suspended captain Scott Barrett will return to action a week earlier than expected ahead of next week’s showdown with the Brumbies.

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Barrett was suspended for four weeks by SANZAAR after he was sent off for a high tackle on Blues prop Alex Hodgman during his side’s Super Rugby Pacific loss to their traditional rivals in Christchurch last month.

That ban was initially supposed to rule Barrett out until the penultimate round of the Super Rugby Pacific regular season, when the Crusaders will host the Fijian Drua on May 20.

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 12
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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 12

However, Crusaders assistant coach Tamati Ellison confirmed on Tuesday that Barrett’s suspension has been shortened by one week following his completion of World Rugby’s head contact process coaching intervention.

That intervention has been made available to players who have been suspended this season, with its completion resulting in a week-long reduction of their bans.

As such, Barrett has been cleared to play for the Crusaders when they take on the high-flying Brumbies in Canberra next Friday.

“He’s undergone the [World Rugby] coaching around collisions already back in Christchurch,” Ellison told media from Perth ahead of the Crusaders’ match against the Western Force on Saturday.

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News of Barrett’s availability will be welcomed by the Crusaders, whose lock stocks are thinning due to further suspensions throughout the squad.

Replacement lock Hamish Dalzell became the third Crusaders player to be handed a red card last weekend when he was sent from the field for colliding with the head of a Waratahs player in his side’s shock defeat at Leichardt Oval.

He has subsequently been banned for three weeks, which is the same fate endured by Crusaders hooker Shilo Klein after he connected with the head of Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot more than a month ago.

Ellison said the regularity of red card isn’t a source of frustration for the Crusaders, but rather something that needs to be eradicated through continual learning in training.

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“It’s not so much frustration, it’s just continuing to adapt to the game. The styles have been similar, Shilo’s was a wee bit different, but it’s continuing to adapt and just be better every week,” he said.

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“I think that’s for every team. Safety’s paramount because the guys are just getting bigger and bigger.

“I caught up with a few of the players from other sides in Melbourne [during Super Round] and just the size of the men, and they’re all getting fitter, faster, stronger, so, technically, we have to continue to improve that every week.”

Injuries have also played its part in the growing unavailability of locks in the Crusaders roster, with rookie Zach Gallagher a casualty from the win over the Rebels a fortnight ago.

Ellison said Gallagher is being monitored on a “day-by-day” basis in the lead-up to the Force clash, but added that no injury cover has been called in as of yet, despite the list of unavailable players.

“We haven’t yet, we’re just making use of who we have internally at this stage,” he said.

“That’s kind of where it is, but the stocks have been, with the boys we’ve had to leave back home through injuries and now what’s happened on the weekend, it can be a wee bit thin there, but we’ll use the boys we have in the squad at the moment.”

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