Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders captain Scott Barrett granted All Blacks rest exemption as injuries ravage teams

Five weeks into the Super Rugby season and injuries among the five New Zealand franchises are starting to mount up. 

The Highlanders are currently without 13 of their original squad, while the Blues are unsure when they'll see the return of some of their front-line All Blacks.

Things have got so bad at the Crusaders, NZ Rugby has had to approve a formal request for an exemption to bypass an All Black's rest week.

"As we’ve said previously, our 2022 All Blacks are on individualised load management plans," NZR high performance manager Mike Anthony said.

"We are in constant dialogue with Super Rugby Pacific coaches and there will be circumstances where we agree to tweak an individual player’s plan. 

"In this case, the Crusaders have a high injury toll at lock, and we have agreed to change Scott’s plan."

The defending champions have been hit hard by injury, with seven All Blacks currently unavailable, and a locking crisis forcing them to seek some help.

"She's been a pretty rough run," Crusaders forwards coach Dan Perrin said.

The crisis in Christchurch saw the Crusaders take action, requesting an exemption to skip Scott Barrett's All Black rest week, as he is their only lock who isn't injured.

Already with six All Blacks on their injury list, Ethan Blackadder then became the seventh when he limped off Orangetheory Stadium with a hamstring injury.

"He's gonna be out for a couple of weeks at this stage," Perrin said. "Return to play not yet known but we'll get through to the bye week and assess him there."

Things aren't much better at the Highlanders. A third of their squad is unavailable, with Saturday's clash with Fijian Drua inflicting more pain.

"We've had a couple of guys who've gone down to injury," Highlanders forwards coach Tom Donnelly said. "Martin Bogado and Jake Te Hiwi have both sustained injuries we'll need further information on."

Things are slow going for the Blues as well, with Roger Tuivasa-Scheck out for a month, and they're still waiting on Akira Ioane and Patrick Tuipulotu to return.

Leon MacDonald is not confident that will be in time for this week's top-of-the-table clash with the Chiefs.

"Akira is definitely not," he said. "Patrick is getting closer, we'll be seeing how he goes over the next wee while."