Kieran Read's rib injury isn't considered too serious by the Crusaders but he is likely to be rested for the final round-robin match against the Force in Christchurch.
The All Blacks' No8 was outstanding for the Crusaders after his absence in the defeat by the Hurricanes the previous week due to concussion. He scored the first try in the 28-21 victory in Hamilton and his ball-carrying and work in winning back the ball from re-starts made him, alongside the returning Dan Carter, a key individual for Todd Blackadder's men.
Read went off on the hour mark at Waikato Stadium and will have a scan on his ribs this week. But even if he is cleared of serious injury, he is likely to be rested against a Force team which looked very ordinary in losing 32-9 to the Blues at Eden Park last night.
The Crusaders, fourth on the table, need only beat the Force, 14th, to hold their position as the leading wildcard team in the playoffs. If so, they will host a qualifier match the following weekend.
With Read out of the mix, Blackadder has decisions to make as to his replacement.
Richie McCaw and George Whitelock were defensively outstanding on Friday night and the All Blacks' skipper prefers the openside flanker position rather than No8, although he played at the back of the scrum in the third test against Ireland a few weeks ago and has filled in there for the Crusaders.
Blackadder could leave McCaw and Whitelock where they are and bring in Luke Whitelock or Matt Todd at No8, with the latter possibly getting the nod due to his greater experience.
No matter the personnel, Blackadder hopes his side maintain their intensity levels after reaching new heights against the Chiefs.
"I know we're a far better side than we showed on Friday and we will get better," he said. "We have to keep focusing on getting the little things right. I definitely feel we've had a shift in mindset."
Carter, who strained a hamstring in training for the third test against Ireland and, like Read, also missed the Hurricanes loss, controlled the game expertly when facing up against All Blacks' teammate Aaron Cruden. Even better news for Blackadder afterwards was that he felt no ill effects from the match.
"That was just about the best news I'd heard all week," Blackadder said.
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick