Super Rugby
Crusaders' depth to be tested in early weeks
ESPN Staff
January 21, 2015
Nemani Nadolo will join the Crusaders once his Japanese season has wrapped up © Getty Images

The Crusaders are set to be without Andy Ellis and Nemani Nadolo for the early weeks of Super Rugby due to their Japanese commitments.

Ellis, who plays for Kobe Steelers, and Nadolo, NEC Green Rockets, will remain in Japan throughout the Top League play-offs, meaning they may not be available for Super Rugby duty until early March. Veteran halfback Ellis looks likely to miss more action after Kobe finished atop the Japanese upper tier. Nadolo's Green Rockets will contest the second-tier play-off series.

"It all depends on when, or if, his team gets knocked out of that competition," Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told The Press of Nadolo. He could be here in a couple of weeks or it could be early March. Whatever happens, we need to integrate him and give him a bit of a rest to get the best out of him."

The absence of Nadolo and Ellis will place added pressure on the Crusaders' depth in the early weeks of Super Rugby with All Blacks Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock already unavailable until round five. The two forwards have been given time off to balance their workloads ahead of the World Cup while Israel Dagg will miss the Crusaders' opener against Melbourne Rebels as he takes the first of two New Zealand Rugby-enforced breaks.

The Crusaders play the first of three trial games against the Highlanders in Timaru on Saturday.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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