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Two more All Blacks struck down by injury at the Crusaders

By Ben Smith
Sevu Reece of the Crusaders receives medical attention during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and Crusaders at Eden Park, on March 18, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson was announced as the new All Blacks coach yesterday but returns to his club with bad news following the side’s 34-28 victory over the Blues at Eden Park.

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The Crusaders injury toll has deepened with the loss of two more All Blacks in Sevu Reece and Sam Whitelock.

Right wing Reece was forced from the field early in the second half and did not return to action and is now suspected to have suffered a serious long-term knee injury.

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The 26-year-old joins fellow All Black backs David Havili, Will Jordan and Jack Goodhue on the sidelines after four rounds of Super Rugby, while hat-trick hero Leicester Fainga’anuku revealed he played the game with damaged rib cartilage.

The loss of Reece further challenges the Crusaders depth out wide as the injury toll grows.

Youngsters Macca Springer, Chay Fihaki and former Blues winger Melani Nanai will be expected to step in and fill the void.

The other injury for the Crusaders is All Black lock Sam Whitelock, who suffered a broken hand and will potentially spend the next couple of months on the sidelines.

The veteran All Black lock joins forwards Fletcher Newell, Oli Jager, Mitch Dunshea and Cullen Grace on the injury list.

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Whitelock’s timeline for recovery won’t impact his availability for the All Blacks but less is known for Reece who could now miss the World Cup.

All Blacks blindside flanker Shannon Frizell was also a late withdrawal in the Highlanders clash against the Western Force, suffering a groin injury in the warm-up just minutes before the game.

The Highlanders also lost hooker Andrew Makalio to a head knock in that clash and was forced from the field early in the first half.

All Blacks current injury list after round four of Super Rugby Pacific:

Crusaders: Will Jordan, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Cullen Grace, Sam Whitelock, Sevu Reece, Fletcher Newell

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Highlanders: Shannon Frizell

Chiefs: Angus Ta’avao, Josh Lord, Atu Moli, Quinn Tupaea, Tupou Vaa’i, Anton Lienert-Brown

Hurricanes: TJ Perenara

Blues: Patrick Tuipulotu, Akira Ioane, Ofa Tu’ungafasi (concussion protocols), Alex Hodgman

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