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Ellis faces fitness race
ESPNscrum Staff
July 5, 2011
Crusaders' Andy Ellis makes a break, Highlanders v Crusaders, Carisbrook, Dunedin, New Zealand March 19, 2011
Andy Ellis has been in fantastic form for the Crusaders this term and looks set to be included in the New Zealand World Cup squad © Getty Images
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Crusaders scrum-half Andy Ellis faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Reds in Brisbane.

The All Black limped off in the 15th minute of last Saturday's semi-final clash against the Stormers following a challenge from Schalk Burger. A leading contender for the All Blacks World Cup squad, Ellis dismissed concerns about his swollen knee but a tender AC joint meant he would have to play through the pain barrier at Suncorp Stadium in the season finale.

"A lot of the guys get it (AC joint injuries) and they carry on playing through a season, Ellis told the NZPA. "You just have to deal with a bit of pain. The first tackle might be a bit tough but after that you're generally OK. I can't do any more damage."

Saturday's clash completes a unique season for the Crusaders who have been on the road for the entire campaign after their AMI Stadium home was damaged during the Christchurch earthquake back in February. The success of the side has helped to lift the region and Ellis is determined to cap it all with the Super Rugby title.

"It's pretty special," Ellis said. "It's (the Crusaders' season) put a smile on a lot of people's faces back home and given a bit of hope. The boys have definitely fed off that and we're not satisfied to just stop here, we're pretty keen to finish off."

If Ellis is ruled out, future Ospreys scrum-half, Kahn Fotuali'i, who produced arguably the game of his season at Newlands, will line up against Wallaby Will Genia. Scrum-half Willie Heinz has joined the squad on standby. Reserve lock Luke Romano, who was diagnosed with chicken pox in Cape Town, was scheduled to join the squad on Wednesday after being released from quarantine.

Crusaders management was hopeful Romano would be able to take his place on the bench as cover for Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock. If not, former All Blacks lock and veteran Crusader Chris Jack will make one last appearance before he ventures to Japan.

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