Christchurch - A host of All Blacks, including kingpin Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina will miss the opening rounds of this year’s Super 14.
While Blues lock Ali Williams has already been ruled out for the season with a ruptured Achilles heel in a pre-season game last week, this year’s competition will start without some of New Zealand’s bigger names.
IRB Player of the year McCaw is only expected back in round four, while Muliaina will miss the first three weeks of the competitions. Both have clauses in their contracts with the New Zealand Rugby Union that allow them to take a break.
Now Blues playmaker Luke McAlister, who returned from Europe last year, will also miss the opening few games and is only expected to return in round four.
Last week Rodney So’oialo stepped down as Hurricanes captain and committed himself to the gym for the opening weeks of the competition.
Blues coach Pat Lam also confirmed that All Blacks Anthony Boric and his namesake Anthony Tuitavake are also in doubt for the opening round.
"Luke might not be ready for round two or three," Blues coach Pat Lam told The Press newspaper in Christchurch.
"He just has some niggly injuries we want to get right and we just want to make sure he has got a good (fitness) base before he gets out there. If you look at last season, he picked up quite a few niggles and the medical team and the conditioning staff just want to make sure he is fully ready to go."
Lam conceded that he wanted McAlister “100 percent fit” for this year’s competition and was willing to wait.