It is an unlucky 13 for the Blues, with 13 players on the injury list, including 4 players who are unlikely to play again in the final 4 weeks of the Super Rugby regular season.
Joining captain Jerome Kaino and Luke Braid on the long term injured list are All Blacks Steven Luatua and Patrick Tuipulotu.
Luatua, the stand-in captain for Kaino, dislocated his shoulder in the win over the Bulls on Friday and with the associated nerve damage, will not return for the Blues final 3 games. Tuipulotu has a long-term hip injury that has worsened and he, too, is unlikely to make it back in the next 4 weeks.
Both players require further tests prior to any decisions about their prognosis and management.
Joining them on the unavailable list this week is Tony Woodcock with a shoulder injury sustained in a collapsed scrum in the match against the Bulls and Charlie Faumuina who is on All Blacks leave.
Others not considered for this week’s match include Pita Ahki (hamstring), Dan Bowden (groin) and Bryn Hall (foot).
Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who said earlier this month he might retire if he was badly concussed again, will be rested from Super Rugby for another 3 weeks to ensure he has fully recovered from a head knock.
The hard-running No 2 suffered the latest in a long string of concussions in the Waratahs’ win over the Brumbies in Canberra on 1 May and has not played since.
Michael Cheika, both Waratahs and Australia coach this year, said the 29-year-old would not play against the Crusaders this weekend or on the 2-match tour of South Africa that follows the 2014 Super Rugby final re-match.
“There is no point in taking him to South Africa and having doubts over him,” Cheika told reporters on Tuesday.
Electrifying wing Sefanaia Naivalu is the only injury concern for the Melbourne Rebels as they prepare to face the DHL Stormers on Saturday.
Naivalu, who scored a double last week during the Rebels loss to the Reds in Brisbane, is facing a test before being declared fit to play against the Stormers in Cape Town at Newlands.
The speedster suffered a head knock against the Reds on Friday in Brisbane, and will follow concussion protocols this week.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has revealed he has targeted the beginning of July to be back on the field.
If he achieves his aim, it will be an exceptional recovery from a total knee reconstruction after the painful injury he suffered in the match against Wales at the end of last season.
Since then De Villiers has been working tirelessly at rehabilitating the knee in order to meet the deadline, with things going a lot better than initially expected.
The Bok captain is already running again and hopes next month to resume team training before getting onto the field in early July.
Speaking at the Supersport Networking lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club, De Villiers was an optimistic man, and said if all goes to plan he will be fit and on the field again long before the final Rugby World Cup squad was picked.
“The recovery has gone very well. These days whenever I meet someone it’s always the 1st question,” De Villiers said.
The Hurricanes have confirmed Beauden Barrett will sit out the next month of Super Rugby.
Barrett’s scans revealed a grade 2 tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered during the Hurricanes’ match against the Crusaders on Saturday 2 May.
“Obviously I’m gutted with the injury, but fortunately it’s not season-ending for me,” said Barrett.
Melbourne Rebels and Wallaby loose forward Sean McMahon has been cleared of any serious damage to his hip, after limping off against the Chiefs in considerable pain last Saturday.
McMahon, who was replaced in the opening half of the Rebels’ 16 / 15 victory over the Chiefs at AAMI Park, will still need to pass a number of different tests to prove his availability ahead of the visit of the Blues this Friday.
Rebels’ head of athletic performance Bryce Cavanagh said McMahon’s injury was a painful blow to his hip, making movement difficult and uncomfortable for the 2nd year player.
Blue Bulls lock RG Snyman was withdrawn from the Junior Springbok touring squad to Argentina due to an ankle ligament injury.
The big lock hurt his ankle during a training session in Stellenbosch and will be out of action for 2 to 4 weeks.
Loose forward Rikus Bothma, the former SA Schools captain and skipper of last year’s Western Province Under 19 team, has been named as his replacement.
Snyman will continue with his rehabilitation until Friday and will return to the camp when the squad reassembles after the tour. He will undergo a fitness test on his return.
The Cell C Sharks’ task of rescuing their Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia from disaster became more difficult on Monday when it was confirmed that Jaco Reinach had flown home after sustaining an arm fracture against the Highlanders last Friday.
Reinach was replaced at halftime in that game in what was explained to the television commentators as a tactical substitution. However, it has been subsequently learned that Reinach broke his arm and is on his way back to South Africa.
The Sharks took 3 scrumhalves on tour, so Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, is likely to continue with Conrad Hoffmann, who finished the Highlanders game as Reinach’s replacement, with Stefan Ungerer coming into the match day squad to provide cover off the bench.
The DHL Stormers’ injury woes continue as lock Ruan Botha is the next casualty on the list of sidelined players.
Botha has been ruled out of this weekend’s Super Rugby meeting with the Brumbies at Newlands, whilst centre and vice-captain Juan de Jongh is an injury doubt.
Botha suffered an ankle ligament injury against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday, as the Stormers went down 17 / 25.
Botha is in a moon boot and could be ruled out from 3 to 6 weeks. The team doctor is still to make a call on the length of his lay-off, but he has been ruled out for this week.
De Jongh is suffering from a hip pointer injury which saw him leave the field in the 23rd minute, and it is usually a 10-day injury.
Utility back Jaco Taute is available but the initial plan is for him to play 40 minutes for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup.
“Giving him (Taute) 40 minutes in the Vodacom Cup is the initial plan, but with our injuries at present we could slot him into the team against a quality Brumbies outfit,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
Waratahs and Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau could take a long leave of absence from rugby or even the quit the game entirely if he suffers another heavy head knock.
Polota-Nau, who has been working with Australian neurologists on the effects of concussion, was forced from the ground with a head injury early in the Waratahs’ Super Rugby win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
The 29-year-old was also forced to miss a couple of games in the southern hemisphere’s provincial championship earlier in the season after suffering another blow to the head at training.
4 Months out from the World Cup, Polota-Nau, who has amassed 50 caps for Australia despite battling a litany of injuries throughout his career, said he was taking a cautious approach to his playing future.
The battling Blues may have to do without All Blacks duo Jerome Kaino and Charles Piutau for the rest of the season.
The Auckland side picked up their 2nd win of the season against the Western Force on Saturday, but the victory came at a dear price with skipper Jerome Kaino and fullback Charles Piutau both going down injured.
Abrasive loose forward Kaino sustained a compound fracture of his finger which saw the bone pop out of his skin, potentially sidelining him for 2 months.
Ulster-bound Piutau suffered another injury to his left knee, with suspected medial ligament damage which would be a recurrence of an injury that kept him out of the game for 2 months last year.
Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett will see a specialist to determine the extent of the knee injury he sustained against the Crusaders.
The All Black playmaker twisted his knee when he was squeezed between 2 Crusaders players in the Hurricanes’ thrilling 29 / 23 victory in Wellington on Saturday.
It was the Hurricanes’ 9th win out of 10 games this season, and leaves them 1 victory away from securing a play-off spot.
Coach Chris Boyd’s team face the struggling Cell C Sharks next, which may be a good opportunity to fulfill Barrett’s mandatory rest period even if he does recover in time to play.
The Highlanders have been dealt a blow with the news that 2nd row Joe Wheeler is out for the rest of the season.
The powerful lock has made 8 starts for the Highlanders this season, but had to come off in last week’s defeat to the Brumbies.
Scans have shown he ruptured ligaments during the game, and as a result he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The Chiefs have made a number of changes to their team to play the Melbourne Rebels, with All Black Brodie Retallick ruled out for 4 weeks with a shoulder injury.
Pauliasi Manu and Ben Tameifuna take over the duties in the front row, with lock Michael Fitzgerald starting in the second row.
Retallick is out for 4 weeks with a left shoulder injury. This is the opposite shoulder to the one injured earlier this year.
Captain Liam Messam comes back into the side and Andrew Horrell gets his chance in the No 10 jersey.
The high-flying Emirates Lions are running the risk of being without one of their star players, Springbok training squad member Lionel Mapoe.
Mapoe is struggling with a knee injury and is in a race against time to be fit for his team’s trans-Jukskei Super Rugby derby with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said that for the most part his team suffered only “bumps and bruises” in their 34 / 29 win over the Cheetahs last week.
However, the centre, Mapoe, remains a concern.
Ackermann said they will give him till Thursday’s team announcement before making a call on his availability.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is “unlikely” to feature for the Crusaders in Saturday’s Super Rugby show down with the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders flanker was concussed in his team’s 14-point win over the Blues in Round 11 and will undergo tests over the coming days to determine his availability for the game against the competition leaders.
But Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said no risks would be taken, and with the World Cup 4 months away, McCaw is likely to be given a week off.
“If he’s not right, there’s no way he will play, Richie,” Blackadder said.
Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his team for Saturday’s clash against the Toyota Cheetahs at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
Ackermann has made just 3 changes to the starting side which beat the Cell C Sharks a fortnight ago.
In the forwards, Armand “Akker” van der Merwe will start at hooker while Ruan Dreyer has been drafted in at tighthead prop.
The backline sees just 1 change, with Courtnall Skosan starting at left wing, having recovered from injury.
On the bench, MB Lusaseni also moves into the match day 23, having recovered from his long-term injury. This is his 1st inclusion in the 2015 competition.
Unfortunately Derick Minnie drops out of the match day 23 as a result of an injury he sustained during Tuesday’s training session. Minnie has undergone surgery on his knee and will unfortunately be out of action for the remainder of the season.
A government drive to boost participation in rugby in English schools is ill-conceived and risks children getting seriously hurt, public health doctors have warned.
Prof Allyson Pollock and colleagues at Queen Mary University of London say the contact sport is too dangerous.
They do not want an outright ban but say the sport must change and safeguards are needed.
The Rugby Football Union said steps had been taken to make the sport safer.
Hard-running Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk has been ruled out of action for 6 weeks, after picking up a patella injury against the Force last weekend.
Van Wyk limped off the field in the 29th minute of Saturday’s hard-fought clash in Perth and he will be unavailable until June.
Fellow wing Dillyn Leyds sat out training on Tuesday, but squad captain Duane Vermeulen – fresh off his 2-week rest period – rejoined squad training at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville.
The Cheetahs have been dealt another blow with the news that Willie le Roux could face an extended period on the sidelines.
The Springbok fullback is suffering from an ankle injury, and it is reported that he could be out for up to 5 weeks.
Le Roux didn’t feature against the Reds last weekend as he was being rested, so it’s unclear when he suffered the injury.
His absence would be a major blow for the Bloemfontein outfit, which has already lost Heinrich Brüssow for the season to a broken arm.
After suffering their 1st defeat of the campaign, the Hurricanes have taken a 2nd blow as Jason Woodward’s season was prematurely ended by a broken ankle.
The outside back suffered the injury playing club rugby for Upper Hutt against Oriental Rongotai in Wellington over the weekend.
While the former Rebel has just 3 Super Rugby appearances to his name this year, his loss will be a blow to the depth of the Hurricanes’ formidable backline that has set the competition alight in the 1st half of the season.
Vodacom Bulls halfbacks Rudy Paige and Jacques-Louis Potgieter will not be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town due to injury.
Paige has a grade 1 medial ligament tear and will be out of action for at least 2 weeks, whilst Potgieter have a grade 1 hamstring tear and will be ready to return to action on 4 May, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
Burger Odendaal (hamstring), Bjorn Basson (knee), Flip van der Merwe (knee) and Arno van Wyk (bronchitis) sat out in training on Monday, with Odendaal only returning Thursday.
Right wing Kobus van Wyk is the only Stormers injury worry after Saturday’s Super Rugby win over the Force, having twisted his knee.
“Kobus went over his knee, it was an awkward sort of twist on his knee… but we will know more over the next 24 hours and will be able to say for sure when we get home,” said coach Allister Coetzee.
Accoridng to the Stormers’ website, the Stormers left Perth for South Africa on Sunday evening (local time). They arrived in Cape Town, via Johannesburg, on Monday morning (local time).
The players did not train on Monday, before starting preparations for next weekend’s home Bulls match (kick-off 19:10 SA Time) on Tuesday.
The Toyota Cheetahs suffered a massive blow when flank Heinrich Brüssow suffered an arm injury in their defeat to the Reds in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
The openside flank left the field in the 14th minute of the match at the Free State Stadium, and coach Naka Drotske has since confirmed that the Springbok has broken his arm.
More clarity about the severity of the injury will be known on Monday, but Brüssow will in all likelihood sit out the rest of the competition.
Fullback Coenie van Wyk also suffered an ankle injury and according to reports, is likely to be ruled out for about 6 weeks.
The Chiefs and All Blacks were delivered devastating news in the context of their 2015 campaigns on Monday when it was confirmed Aaron Cruden had ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.
The star playmaker will visit a surgeon on Wednesday to arrange a knee re-construction which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6 months.
In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Chiefs confirmed that Cruden would undergo traditional surgery “given Aaron’s young age and long-term career prospects.”
Cruden’s Super Rugby season is definitely over and his Rugby World Cup has been thrown into doubt as even a best-case recovery within that 6 month window would only see him fit in the final fortnight of the tournament.
The New Zealand Rugby Union are reconsidering their concussion procedures after a Highlanders player remarkably returned to the field in a Super Rugby game last weekend.
Highlanders prop Josh Hohneck was knocked out in their victory over the Crusaders in Round 9 of Super Rugby last weekend.
The 29-year-old was on the receiving end of a substantial blow during his attempt to tackle Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua early in the 1st half of the match in Christchurch.
Hohneck fell to the ground, but after receiving medical attention he managed to regain his feet and stumbled off the park for a concussion test.
He reportedly flew through the test and was therefore allowed to return to the field less than 10 minutes later, at which time both Referee Glen Jackson, and Crusaders scrumhalf Andy Ellis questioned the decision.
Ryan Crotty has been ruled out of the Crusaders’ clash with the Chiefs as a precautionary measure, after he suffered a head knock against the Highlanders last weekend.
It is not all bad news for the Crusaders though, as star flyhalf Dan Carter could well fill the vacant No 12 spot after appearing off the bench against the Highlanders.
Injuries have played their part in marring the All Black playmaker’s season thus far, but he should be fit enough to start on the weekend.
Crotty’s absence is also offset by the return of loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett and lock Luke Romano, who were rested for the Highlanders’ game.
Utility forward Michael Rhodes will return home from the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia after suffering a hamstring tear in his team’s 32 / 18 bonus point win over the Waratahs at the weekend.
The tough-tackling forward was forced to leave the field in the 33rd minute on Saturday and he now faces a 6 to 8 week lay-off – Rhodes’s 2nd injury blow of the season after picking up a knee injury against the Lions in late February.
Rhodes will be replaced in the DHL Stormers tour party by DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup star Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who left for Perth late on Sunday evening.
DHL Stormers boss Allister Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website: “Michael has a Grade 2 or 3 hamstring tear and will be out of action for at least 6 weeks.
The Brumbies are facing a test of their squad depth after their Super Rugby defeat on Friday against the Blues.
ACT and Wallaby pivot Matt Toomua has been sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks with an ankle syndesmosis injury suffered in their 14 / 16 loss the Auckland outfit.
The in-form Brumbies prop Scott Sio, who was replaced just after halftime, suffered a knee medial ligament strain.
Sio is staring down the barrel of 6 to 8 weeks out with only 9 Rounds of the Super Rugby regular season remaining.
Inside centre Christian Lealiifano is the likely candidate to take the reins at flyhalf for their upcoming fixture against the Melbourne Rebels, while South African born JP Smith is set to replace Sio at prop.
Utility back James Dargaville, who is a convert from flank to wing, is to undergo scans to identify whether he has broken bones in his foot, which could potentially result in a similar recovery period to Sio.
The Springbok Sevens have returned to South Africa following their participation in the latest rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
The squad underwent their usual medical assessment at their training camp on Wednesday, and apart from Philip Snyman and Stephan Dippenaar who both returned home with injuries last week from the Far East, no further injuries were reported.
Snyman sustained a knee ligament injury on the 2nd day in Hong Kong and he was replaced by Carel du Preez, who made his Springbok Sevens debut in Tokyo. The estimated recovery period for Snyman is 4 to 6 weeks.
His team-mate Stephan Dippenaar, meanwhile, picked up a mild hamstring injury on the last day of the Hong Kong event and was replaced by Ruhan Nel. He is expected to be back in action in 2 to 4 weeks.
The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the news that Springbok loose forward Willem Alberts has returned to training and will be available for selection this weekend.
Alberts missed the 1st few matches of the Super Rugby season with injury and returned to action in the game against the DHL Stormers on 7 March. He then suffered another injury setback in the game at Newlands which saw him spend more time on the sidelines.
However, according to the Sharks’ official website, Alberts has now recovered sufficiently and will be available to face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.
The Vodacom Bulls medical staff on Tuesday confirmed that lock Victor Matfield will undergo surgery on his injured knee (right) and will be out of action for 3 to 4 weeks.
According to Vodacom Bulls doctor Org Strauss, Matfield is going into surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) for an arthroscopy on the knee to fix up damaged cartilage.
Matfield could have played the season without undergoing the procedure, but the decision was made as a precautionary measure building towards the World Cup.
Cell C Sharks and Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie has been ruled out for 6 weeks, following a neck injury sustained against the Crusaders in their humiliating defeat by the Crusaders in Durban during Round 8 of Super Rugby.
Lambie has suffered a neck vertebrae injury, which saw him leave the field and replaced by Fred Zeilinga during the game on the weekend.
The Sharks have now lost no less than 4 leaders, with regular skipper Bismark Du Plessis still suspended, as is Frans Steyn.
Jean Deysel has received a hefty 7 week suspension for his deliberate knee to the head of Crusaders flank Matt Todd, and now the crucial blow of Lambie.
The Vodacom Bulls will get a number of Springboks back this week, but there is growing concern over the knee injury of veteran lock Victor Matfield.
Matfield will only know on Tuesday when he will play again.
He was originally listed as being ‘rested’ for the encounter with the Lions last week, but it has since emerged that the knee injury was the real problem.
Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper and No 8 Jake Schatz have been ruled out of the side’s 2-week tour of South Africa, after suffering injuries in Friday night’s loss to the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne.
Cooper fractured his scapula making a tackle, while Schatz ruptured a tendon in his elbow after his arm was caught in an awkward position in a ruck. Cooper will be sidelined for up to 8 weeks, while Schatz will be reviewed in 4 weeks.
The Reds head to Johannesburg this Sunday and head coach Richard Graham said he would take the next 24 hours to make a decision as to who would join the 27-man squad for the tour.