A mounting injury list has seen the Crusaders turn to former captain Reuben Thorne as they embark on a three-match Super 15 rugby swing through Australia and South Africa.

Fresh from a shock loss to the Highlanders last Saturday, the Crusaders leave for Perth tomorrow with Thorne on board.

The most capped Crusader with 129 appearances, 36-year-old Thorne has been called into the squad as cover for loose forward and lock.

He has been playing club rugby for High School Old Boys in Christchurch this season following a two-year stint with Japanese club side Yamaha.

Thorne last played for the Crusaders in 2008 in the team's final win over the Waratahs.

Coach Todd Blackadder injury concerns deepened after the loss to the Highlanders, with halfback Andy Ellis and lock Brad Thorn picking up injuries which will prevent them from joining their teammates on tomorrow's flight.

Ellis dislocated and fractured his right thumb and will be out for six to eight weeks, while Thorn has a mild calf tear and will be out for three to four weeks.

Also, No 8 and regular captain Kieran Read will not travel with the squad to Perth, but will leave for Cape Town on Saturday due to his rest and recovery plan.

Blackadder had rested Read for the Highlanders match due to his recent heavy workload.

The Crusaders play Western Force in Perth on Sunday morning (NZT) followed by matches against the Stormers at Cape Town a week later and the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein on May 15.

- NZPA