Cape Town - Defending Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders, are losing players at an alarming rate, with flank Tom Sanders the latest injury casualty.
According to the Stuff.co.nz website, Sanders will miss up to four months with an acute ankle fracture.
Sanders, who has moved home after spending two seasons at the Chiefs, sustained the injury during
pre-season training and was forced to go under the knife.
This follows a day after news broke that All Black skipper Kieran Read would miss the start of next year's Super Rugby season as he undergoes surgery to fix a back problem.
The Crusaders said Read would have an operation on Saturday on a prolapsed disc, which normally requires four months' recovery.
The injuries will not go down well with head coach Scott Robertson, who already has to make do without All Blacks props Joe Moody (shoulder) and Owen Franks (Achilles) until as late as May.
In addition to Read and Sanders being out, loose forward Jordan Taufua (broken arm) isn't training but should be available come their season opener against the Chiefs in Christchurch on February 24.
Fullback Israel Dagg is still recovering from a knee injury, but is also expected to be available for the start of the new season.
Scrumhalf Ere Enari (broken leg) has already been ruled out of the 2018 season and was replaced by Canterbury’s Jack Stratton, while flyhalf Richie Mo'unga is recovering from his second broken hand this year.