Crusaders' tackle machine Tom Christie dislocates shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is set to deny Crusaders openside flanker Tom Christie the chance to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday afternoon.

The Crusaders have confirmed Christie, who was forced to leave the field during the second half of the 39-17 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch last Saturday night, will have to undergo “further investigation and specialist review’’ over the next few days to determine the appropriate management of the injury.

Further details will be revealed this week, but judging by the discomfort Christie appeared to be in during the Super Rugby Aotearoa match at Orangetheory Stadium, he’s expected to be scratched from the game against the Blues at Eden Park.

The Crusaders are likely to shift Sione Havili Talitui, who started at blindside flanker against the Chiefs, to the No 7 position.

Cullen Grace, who was forced to miss the game because of sore ribs and was replaced by Whetukamokamo Douglas, is expected to be available to start at No 8.

Blindside flanker Ethan Blackadder, rested because of a head knock, could also be declared fit to meet the Blues and add a touch of mongrel to the defensive line.

The fixture between the Crusaders and Blues will be the most anticipated fixture this season; both teams are unbeaten after 3 rounds, with the Blues dispatching the Highlanders 39-17 at Eden Park last Sunday.

Apart from the injury to Christie, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson should have the majority, if not all, of his frontline players available for this blockbuster against Patrick Tuipulotu’s men.

The Crusaders and Blues were slated to meet in the final-round SRA game last year, which had sold out, but it was cancelled because Auckland went into lockdown due to Covid-19.

Robertson will hope there’s no need for assistant coach Jason Ryan to deliver a serve to the forwards, as he did during the halftime break last Saturday night.

Ryan was so unhappy with the pack’s effort in the first 40 minutes that he fired some verbal rockets.

“Yes, he had a little bit of a go,’’ Robertson confirmed. “In a couple of areas we just got out-muscled. I didn’t think it was that bad, but obviously he (did).

“He said they (the forwards) had more in them as a group - it was a little bit animated. I think it was game understanding.’’