Super Rugby Pacific: Captain Scott Barrett sidelined with broken finger in latest Crusaders injury blow

Reeling from a disastrous start to their Super Rugby Pacific title defence, the Crusaders have suffered another massive blow, with captain Scott Barrett sidelined six weeks with a broken finger.

"Poor old Scooter," lamented coach Rob Penney. "Training just before leaving for the Drua, he got a big knock the finger that was just operated on and sustained a fracture.

"He's a great leader and a really important piece of our leadership group. His onfield performances are world class every week, he goes deep to that well and is such an inspirational guy.

Scott Barrett scores a try against the Chiefs.
Scott Barrett scores a try against the Chiefs. Photo credit: Photosport

"He'll be sadly missed, but we've got a lot of really hungry young men determined to make their mark on this place. That's their opportunity now."

The All Blacks lock joins a growing list of staff and players missing from last year's triumphant side, with coach Scott Robertson and assistant Scott Hansen promoted to the national team, and veterans Sam Whitelock, Richie Mo'unga and Jack Goodhue taking up contracts offshore.

All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor (sabbatical), loose forward Ethan Blackadder (calf), midfielder Braydon Ennor (knee), fullback Will Jordan (shoulder), prop Tamaiti Williams (hamstring) and now Barrett are carrying injuries, while former international prop Joe Moody will miss this week's encounter against the unbeaten Hurricanes, after picking up COVID-19 in Fiji. 

Former Wales international Leigh Halfpenny also succumbed to a shoulder injury during the pre-season.

"It's an industry where these things can happen," reflected Penney. "We knew we had some positions of vulnerability going into the comp and unfortunately they've been the positions where we've been hammered a bit.

"The beauty about this organisation is we have a reasonably deep well and we've got to have faith in the boys coming through. The coaches are working really hard on the education piece, but there's no way to replicate the pressures and intesity and the learnings you get on the grass in battle.

"We've just got to put them out there in a good place and let them unleash themselves."

In Barrett's absence, All Blacks midfielder David Havili will assume the captaincy.

"Every team that has success has a great leadership group, great wisdowm within their playing group," said Penney. "We've got that - a fantastic group of me to lead this ship through a stormy sea.

"It's really important and we've got the guys there to do it."

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