Injury setbacks to two Crusaders forwards has taken the sheen off flanker Jordan Taufua’s announcement he is staying for two more seasons.
Lock Sam Whitelock has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the Blues in Auckland with a hamstring complaint while another All Black, hooker Codie Taylor, is in doubt.
Taylor sat out training with a strapped ankle, with a decision on his availability for the Eden Park game is still to be made.
Whitelock picked up his injury during last weekend’s 29-10 drubbing of the Waratahs which left the Crusaders one point behind the Chiefs at the top of the Super Rugby standings.
Taufua, 24, is likely to play his 12th straight game as he continue his push for an All Blacks Test jersey.
The Counties Manukau flanker, who announced a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, has been among the Crusaders’ best in 2016, barrelling over for tries in each of the last three games.
Renowned for his physicality, the former national under-20 forward says he is feeling increasingly at home at the Crusaders since his shift south in 2012.
Coach Todd Blackadder says Taufua’s presence at the collisions is becoming a key feature for his team.
“He is an intimidating force for any opposition to come up against,” Blackadder said.