Super Rugby 2020: Crusaders lose Quinten Strange to injury

The Crusaders must start the new Super Rugby season without the services of promising lock Quinten Strange.

In the absence of departed captain Sam Whitelock, the 23-year-old was set to form a new second-row tandem with Scott Barrett, who's taken a sabbatical to play in Japan.

But a broken bone in Strange's hand - suffered in the opening stages of the Crusaders pre-season win over the Highlanders on Friday - will see him sidelined up for the opening five weeks of their 2020 campaign.

That includes the chance for the Nelson product to run out at Trafalgar Park in front of friends and family for the defending champions' opening fixture against the Waratahs on Friday.

"Really gutted for him, especially heading into this game at home," says Crusaders assistant coach Andrew Goodman. "Nelson College, Collingwood lad... he was devastated."

Luke Romano and Mitchell Dunshea are the two leading contenders to replace Strange in the starting line-up.

Exactly how many of the team's wealth of All Blacks are included in that run-on side will be another point of contention.

The edict from above encourages coaches to ease them back into the fold, which Goodman confesses will require some juggling.

Midfielder Jack Goodhue looks likely to shift inside from his usual centre spot to second-five to replace departed incumbent Ryan Crotty.

"He'll be a big link for us in that 12-13 role with [Crotty's] experience gone and [we're] maybe looking to use Braydon [Ennor] more at 13 this year."

With Tasman Mako stars Will Jordan and Leicester Faingaanuku - who both shone during pre-season - waiting in the wings, the impact of restricted minutes for the likes of George Bridge and Sevu Reece shouldn't be too keenly felt.

"It's a new season, so it's just been about getting rid of some rust," Jordan said. 

"The lads have had a good couple of hit-outs over the past two weeks and the body is feeling good, so we're just lookiing forward to getting out there this week and getting stuck in."

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