McCaw blow for Saders brings you the latest news from New Zealand’s Super 14 franchises.

McCaw blow for Saders

Crusaders captain Richie McCaw has been ruled out of action for five weeks with a medial ligament strain in his right knee.

The defending champions, who lost 6-0 to the Highlanders on the weekend, are not only on a poor run of form with just one win in four, but have been severely hit by injury blows this season.

The Crusaders have already lost veteran hooker Corey Flynn for the season, have not had All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald on the field since the opening round and have also seen centre Casey Laulala struck down with a shoulder injury.

McCaw won’t be back until 18 April, say the Crusaders, and youngster George Whitelock has been announced as his replacement.

Coach Todd Blackadder said he hoped to have McCaw back in the squad for their three-game trip to South Africa which begins with a match against the high-flying Sharks in Durban on 18 April and is followed by games against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and Lions in Johannesburg.

Blackie set for scan

Josh Blackie’s Super 14 return looks set to be cut short after he hobbled off the field with an ankle injury during the Blues 35-31 loss to the Sharks.

Blackie joined the Blues a month ago after his stint in Japan and has been an invaluable signing for the Auckland outfit after the loss of former All Blacks flanker Daniel Braid to the Reds.

Having started against the Bulls and the Stormers in South Africa, Blackie came off the bench in the Blues’ fourth round clash with the Sharks at Eden Park on Saturday.

But the 29-year-old hobbled off just a couple of minutes after twisting his ankle and an MRI scan is expected to reveal the full extent of the injury. So far, though, the prognosis does not look good according to the Blues medical staff.

This thread will be updated throughout the day.