Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has cast his net far and wide for props, with All Black Joe Moody joining an ever-growing list of Super Rugby Pacific casualties.
Moody, 34, hobbled off against the Blues two weeks ago and has now been ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby campaign with a serious ankle sprain.
"I actually don't know the technical term, but it is something to do with his ankle," said Robertson. "It's got some fancy name."
He is optimistic the niggle won't keep Moody out of the Rugby World Cup in October/November, but his absence compounds a shortage that includes season-ending injuries to international front-rowers George Bower and Fletcher Newell.
"She a long-handled spade, mate, we're getting right down there," said Robertson. "It's incredible, wer've worked really hard to find who's available in propping stocks.
"I've been talking to agents and they're a rare breed. They're precious - you don't have a game of rugby without a front row and a ref.
"We've trawled a few names."
This week, former Chiefs and Taranaki prop Reuben O'Neill will make his Crusaders debut against NSW Waratahs and Robertson hints he has another, more obscure recruit about to land in Christchurch for the playoffs.
"I can't tell you who it is, because he hasn't arrived and we haven't signed it off, but he's played a lot of footy and has come from overseas," he said. "He knows his way around a rugby field and you'll see him at training next week.
Robertson reveals the newcomer has never played for the Crusaders before.
O'Neill's arrival brings the Crusaders squad to 45 for the season, including a dozen debuts, as the wear and tear of Super Rugby has taken its toll.
"We got a lot early and we got a lot of season-enders early," said Robertson. "All of them are training with us, but they can't play, so we've got a massive squad still.
"We haven't had that before - we've had guys sporadically through the season, but we got a clump at the start and we got guys who were 2-3 weeks at a time, so we haven't quite got our rhythm until the last couple of weeks with a bit of cohesion."
Veteran lock Sam Whitelock has been among the body count with an Achilles tendon strain, but returns for his first home game of the season this weekend, but loose forward Ethan Blackadder has been held out another week with his troublesome calf.
Join Newshub at 4:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Crusaders v Waratahs Super Rugby Pacific clash2023-05-25T00:31:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd