Blow for Crusaders as Leigh Halfpenny set to miss most of Super Rugby season

David Skippers
Leigh Halfpenny Wales 2023 - Alamy.jpg

Crusaders full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

The Crusaders have suffered a setback ahead of the Super Rugby Pacific campaign after it was revealed that star full-back Leigh Halfpenny is expected to miss most of the Super Rugby season with a chest injury.

The 35-year-old damaged his pectoral muscle while making his debut for the Christchurch-based outfit in their pre-season clash against Munster in Cork on Saturday.

The Crusaders, who are the Super Rugby Pacific champions, suffered a 21-19 loss to the United Rugby Championship winners in an exciting encounter at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Set for surgery

The former Wales and British & Irish international needs an operation on his injury and is set to be ruled out for the next three to four months, the Crusaders revealed.

“Leigh Halfpenny suffered an injury to his pectoral muscle during the pre-season game versus Munster in Cork on Saturday 3 February,” the club said in a statement. “He will require surgery and is expected to be available for selection in 3-4 months.

“We look forward to Leigh playing an important part in the team throughout the season.”

Halfpenny joined the Crusaders on a one-year contract towards the end of 2023 after announcing his retirement from international rugby. He represented Wales in 101 Tests and the Lions on four occasions in the international arena.

“It is a real bummer for him,” Crusaders’ assistant coach Tamati Ellison told reporters via a video call from England.

“He will still help, even during his rehab period around some of the kicking and the game-driving for a few of our younger boys. He has been great there already.”

The Crusaders will face Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate in their next pre-season game on Friday night and they start their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaign against the Chiefs in Hamilton on February 23.

Hoping Halfpenny returns

Ellison is hopeful Halfpenny will return to action during the latter rounds of Super Rugby Pacific.

“We’re expecting him to play, if the rehab goes well,” he said.

READ MORE: WATCH: Surreal moment as Leigh Halfpenny performs haka with Crusaders against Munster