The seven-time champion Crusaders will start their 2012 campaign without two of their moist influential players - Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
However, the it is not certain exactly the two injured World Cup winners will return to the playing field.
Reports from New Zealand state that the anxiety over the injured foot of the All Black captain, McCaw, during the World Cup was fully justified.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said on Wednesday, during the announcement of the five New Zealand Super Rugby squads, McCaw probably shouldn't have played the final few tournament matches.
In announcing the Crusaders squad for next year's Super Rugby season Blackadder said they should know how long McCaw will be unavailable after he sees a specialist on Thursday, but expects he will play at "some stage" in the competition.
McCaw had screw inserted in his right foot in February and has had ongoing problems.
There are similar concerns over Carter, who will also miss the start of the 2012 season.
Carter suffered a serious groin injury during the tournament and is not expected back until early March.
The Crusaders refused to put a time frame on the duo's return.
Blackadder, though, believes the team still possesses enough experience despite the loss of his two biggest stars.
"Kieran Read stepped up and led the team incredibly well and he tells me he is pretty fit and looking forward to next season but he definitely needs a good break," Blackadder said.
"We've also got George Whitelock who is quite an experienced captain now after leading Canterbury during the NPC and we've got other great leaders in Wyatt Crockett and Andy Ellis as well."
Blackadder allayed fears McCaw could miss the entire Super Rugby season if his foot requires another operation.
"[McCaw] will definitely play Super Rugby. He sees a specialist on Thursday so a decision will be made after that. What will be key for us is that he takes whatever time he needs to get that foot right because I know it has been a very frustrating season for him.
''It says a lot about him that he played the World Cup finals. When I talked to him about his foot during the cup, especially the later stages, he really shouldn't have played at all.
"It was probably lucky that they didn't x-ray him as it probably would have confirmed that he shouldn't have been out there. But you are talking about resilience and someone tough and driven and I thought he did a fantastic job," said Blackadder.
* Meanwhile Blackadder says they're still hopeful of retaining a home ground in Christchurch with Rugby League Park still the preferred option.
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