Injury-plagued All Blacks star to miss the start of the Crusaders’ Super Rugby Pacific title defence

David Skippers
Will Jordan carries the ball for the Crusaders

Crusaders and All Blacks utility back Will Jordan.

The Crusaders could start the defence of their Super Rugby Pacific title without the services of star All Blacks outside back Will Jordan, who is battling to overcome a shoulder injury.

The 25-year-old, who is equally adept at playing at full-back or on the wing, is currently being assessed by the Crusaders’ medical team, and an update on his condition is expected later in the week.

Missed most of the 2023 campaign due to injury

If he should be ruled out for an extended period, it will be a repeat of last season when the Crusaders were out of his services from the start of their campaign and for a large portion of the rest of the season due to migraine-related symptoms.

Widely regarded as one of the best-attacking players in the world, with a try-scoring record of 31 five-pointers in as many Tests for New Zealand, Jordan could be a huge loss for the Christchurch-based franchise when they kick off their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaign against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday, February 23.

If that is the case, Jordan will not be the only All Black in the Crusaders’ ranks who will not be in action when the season starts.

Back-row forward Ethan Blackadder, who also spent a big portion of last year on the injury list, is set to miss the first three or four matches with a calf injury, while inside centre David Havili is making a return after an extended break and will only be available for selection from the second round.

Blackadder’s absence will not be so keenly felt as the Crusaders have plenty back-ups amongst their loose forwards, but losing Jordan will be a big blow as they have already lost former Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to a serious chest injury, while Fergus Burke, who can play at fly-half and full-back, is sidelined with an Achilles injury until April.

Young utility back Macca Springer was set to be the Crusader’s first-choice left-wing in 2024 but could now be wearing the number 15 jersey when they face the Chiefs.

Chay Fihaki and Rivez Reihana are other options for that role, while it’s understood Havili, who was the Crusaders’ first-choice full-back before shifting into the midfield in 2021, isn’t likely to be asked to return to his old position.

Happy with Springer’s development

“I think it was pretty obvious to see how capable he is, and the growth in his game the last 18 months was really evident,” Crusaders head coach Rob Penney told Stuff of Springer’s fine showings in the pre-season matches against Munster and Bristol.

“He was still New Zealand U20s last year, keep that in perspective, but he’s really maturing nicely and he will be hard to keep out of the mix if he keeps playing like that.”

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