The Crusaders have turned to former captain Reuben Thorne as injury cover despite the former All Black having not played for the club since 2008.
With the Super Rugby tour of South Africa and Australia coming up, coach Todd Blackadder has been forced to act after a series of injures debilitated his squad as they leave for Perth tomorrow ahead of games in Perth, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
Thorne is the most capped Crusaders player of all time having played for the side 129 times, but has spent the last two years playing with Japanese side Yamaha before returning home to play club rugby for High School Old Boys in Christchurch this season.
“He was as keen as mustard,” Blackadder told The Press. “He would never let us down and is not the type of guy that would tell us he was ready if he wasn’t right.
“He’s played at the highest level, he is physically fit. We have no worries there – he is mentally tough, which is exactly probably what we need at the moment.” He added.
The 36-year-old will likely find himself on the replacements bench for the game against the Force this weekend, with Chris Jack and Luke Romano likely to occupy the second row.
Blackadder has been forced to contend with an ever growing injury list since the Crusaders got their Super rugby campaign underway, and will now be without halfback Andy Ellis and lock Brad Thorn, who will not be on the flight with their team-mates tomorrow.
Ellis suffered a thumb injury against the Highlanders last weekend meaning he will be sidelined for up to eight weeks, while Thorn has a mild calf tear and will be out for around four weeks.
Ellis had hoped to stake his claim for a spot at the Rugby World Cup on home soil later this year, and looked to have grabbed the attention of national coach Graham Henry with a string of impressive displays, but a fracture in his right thumb means his selection could be in doubt.
Number 8 Kieran Read will also not be on the flight to Perth, but will leave for Cape Town on Saturday due to his rehabilitation after Blackadder rested him for the shock 26-18 defeat against the Highlanders on Saturday due to his recent heavy workload.
A call has yet to be made on Ritchie McCaw’s fitness but a hamstring injury means fly-half Dan Carter’s adidas R15 boots will likely be missing from action for around two weeks.