Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder says that he is resigned to playing the Chiefs on Friday without his star No.8 Kieran Read due to a rib injury.
Read missed the Crusaders final regular season match against the Force with a small stress fracture in one of his ribs as well as qualfiier match against the Bulls.
Blackadder's dissapointment in not having Read available has however been drastically reduced by Richie McCaw's form at No.8 in recent weeks.
The Crusaders forwards dominated the big Bulls pack in the 28-13 victory over the former South African champions and Read was not too badly missed.
Read has not trained since he suffered a blow to his ribs playing against the Chiefs on July the 6th and McCaw flankers Matt Todd and George Whitelock have been the loose forwards in his absence.
Blackadder says that he is likely to leave Read off the team sheet this weekend against the Chiefs on Friday.
"I don't think he will train . . . I think with the game being on Friday it is probably too short a turnaround for him," Blackadder said.
"He is probably a week away. I would doubt he will be ready," Blackadder told Fairfax NZ News.
"And I thought the challenge of playing No 8 has been really good for Richie. "
"He was huge against the Bulls and looks to be like he is really enjoying his rugby this year."
In the last Chiefs vs Crusaders match the Chiefs had a nightmare with their scrum and lineout but were missing captain Craig Clarke who withdrew due to illness before the match.
Even though Clarke is expected back Blackadder is optimistic his forwards can perform as well on Friday as he feels the Crusaders can improve on their performance.
"We didn't get everything right that night, we learned a lot from that game," Blackadder said.
"At times we were in control but they managed to break our rhythm and timing to get themselves back in the game."
The Crusaders have won their last four matches and the Chiefs have lost their last two matches but have had the bye this weekend to sort out any problems.