The Crusaders will be without the services of All Black trio Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and Codie Taylor for the opening rounds of Super Rugby including their opening games against fellow New Zealand conference rivals the Blues and Hurricanes.
Captain Sam Whitelock and looseforward Kieran Read will miss the first four rounds of the Crusaders title defence while Scott Robertson confirmed that Codie Taylor will also be given an extended breather.
Under instruction from All Blacks management, Taylor will miss the Crusaders' season-opener against the Blues at Eden Park on February 16, followed by their home-opener against the Hurricanes in Christchurch the following week.
The fortnight off is in addition to the two mandatory games All Blacks are required to sit out this season. This means the likes of Whitelock and Read will miss at least six of the Crusaders' 16 regular season fixture.
Robertson must also juggle playing minutes for his available frontline All Blacks in the opening three rounds, given the five New Zealand franchises have been instructed to limit them to 180 minutes.
"It's a decent spreadsheet," Robertson quipped when discussing the logistics of resting All Blacks and managing their minutes.
"But [general manager for professional rugby] Angus Gardiner and myself, and the coaching staff, sat down and spent a bit of time looking at the best balance."
Story via: Stuff.co.nz