June 30, 2019 / 4:54 AM / 20 days ago

Rugby-Battered Crusaders prepare for 'brutal' Jaguares

WELLINGTON, June 30 (Reuters) - The Canterbury Crusaders will be sweating on the fitness of All Blacks Ryan Crotty and Scott Barrett for next week’s Super Rugby title decider against the Jaguares after both were injured in the frenetic semi-final against the Wellington Hurricanes.

Centre Crotty damaged his thumb and Barrett his finger in Saturday’s 30-26 thriller at Christchurch Stadium and both will undergo X-rays to assess the extent of their injuries with breaks likely to rule them out.

“They’re important players for us, you know,” coach Scott Robertson told local media.

“A hundred-odd games for Crots and Scooter Barrett’s one of the best locks in the world, so we’ll see.”

Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga and prop Joe Moody also suffered shoulder injuries but Robertson expected them to be fit to play when the Crusaders go for a record extending 10th title in Christchurch next Saturday.

After a bruising encounter with the Hurricanes at the end of a long season, Robertson said the Crusaders would not be overdoing it in training this week.

“We will train light, there is no doubt. Everything is pretty measured these days, with the GPS units and running metres per minute,” he said.

“We will get through so we’re in the best physical nick as we possibly can and, more importantly, our mental condition to have a great night on Saturday.

“It is the mental side for us now. To be really clear in what we’re going to do game-tactic wise, and then get excited. It is a pretty special opportunity for a lot of us guys.”

Robertson won three straight titles with the Crusaders as a player from 1998 to 2000 and he will achieve the same as a coach on Saturday if his players can keep intact the club record of never having lost a home playoff.

The former All Blacks flanker said the Crusaders had started scouting the Jaguares, who they did not play in the regular season this season, even before the Argentines beat the ACT Brumbies 39-7 in Buenos Aires on Friday.

“We did a little bit of homework. We were expecting to play them. We were a few days ahead on it, as you do, you’re always planning,” he said.

“They’re tough and they’re brutal. At the breakdown, the physicality they bring, they’ve got enough test players in their team to understand how to play at the highest level and pressure moments.

“It’s going to be another hell of a match for us.” (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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