Crusaders scrum-half Willi Heinz could miss the entire Super Rugby season after breaking a leg in a pre-season match against the Highlanders.
The Crusaders may well be forced to sign a replacement scrum-half before their opening match against the Rebels on February 13 in Christchurch, where the hosts are firm favourites among those who bet on sport.
Heinz suffered the horrific injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s 29-26 loss and was stretchered off before being taken to hospital with lower half of his leg pointing in the wrong direction.
There was further bad news for Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder as new recruit Jone Macilai was also injured. The Fijian winger left the field with a suspected broken arm.
Blackadder’s option for replacing Heinz could mean an early return from Japan for World Cup-winning All Black Andy Ellis, who is still playing for Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers, and was set to miss the first few rounds of the Super Rugby season.
Mitchell Drummond and Billy Guyton, who played for the Hurricanes in 2014, are immediate options.