Super Rugby Aotearoa: Crusaders' Tom Christie ruled out of Super Rugby Aotearoa with shoulder injury

If the Crusaders are to win a consecutive Super Rugby Aotearoa crown, then they'll need to do it without influential loose forward Tom Christie.

Christie, 23, is currently the competition's leading tackler (42 through three games) but will miss the remainder of the New Zealand-only competition, needing surgery after dislocating his shoulder in last week's victory over the Chiefs in Christchurch.

There is hope though that Christie could recover in time for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, beginning in May.

"We're gutted for him," Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says.

"He was on form, he'd had an incredible off-season, and he was playing great footy. He's such a professional, we feel for him."

This week, Christie's place in the Crusaders' starting side will be filled by Sione Havili Talitui,, as the reigning champions travel to Auckland to face the Blues in a top-of-the-table encounter.

Join Newshub for live updates of the Blues v Crusaders from 3:35pm Sunday.