The Crusaders will be without a host of their frontline players when they play the Highlanders in their first pre-season match at Rugby Park, Greymouth, on Friday.
Those 'unavailable' include Tom Taylor, Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Richie McCaw, Zac Guildford, Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicoll.
The most high-profile injury casualties are obviously All Blacks Dan Carter (who is set to return in March, following a groin injury suffered in the World Cup tournament last year) and Richie McCaw (recovering from surgery to remove a screw in his foot).
Coach Todd Blackadder described their prospects as positive.
"Carter is going to be back in March, hopefully for our first or second home game " said Blackadder.
There is no such timeline on McCaw's return, who played throughout 2011 with the screw in the foot causing him severe discomfort. McCaw said "it definitely won't be the first two or three weeks" of the competition.
Guildford will miss the side's pre-season clashes and the first competition match because of an New Zealand Rugby Union-imposed ban - a punishment for his alcohol-fuelled outburst in Rarotonga late last year.
The Crusaders travel to Greymouth on Wednesday for a pre-season camp, before their match on Friday.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Adam Whitelock, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Ross Kennedy, 3 Nick Barrett, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett (captain).
Replacements - for: Joe Moody, Ben Franks, Sam Prattley, Ben Funnell, Codie Taylor, Luke Romano, Dominic Bird, Brendon O'Connor, George Whitelock, Mark Swanepoel, , Mitchell Scott, Patrick Osborne, Andy Ellis.
Date: Friday, February 3
Venue: Rugby Park, Greymouth
Kick-off: 17.45 (04.45 GMT)
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