Injury setback for All Blacks ahead of second test

AFP
The All Blacks will be without both first-choice centres for next week's second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland, coach Steve Hansen said yesterday.
AFP

The All Blacks will be without both first-choice centres for next week’s second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland, coach Steve Hansen said yesterday.

He confirmed Ryan Crotty would miss the match after being knocked out in Saturday’s 38-13 first Test win in Sydney, while Sonny Bill Williams was already out injured. Hansen said he would be forced to check on the fitness of Wellington Hurricanes’ Vince Aso, who has been out since May after damaging wrist ligaments during the Super Rugby season.

“The guy we’re pretty keen on is Aso, we’re trying to get an update on his about how his wrist is,” he told reporters.

Hansen said wing Rieko Ioane was sidelined after picking up a hamstring tear in Sydney. The injuries may give Australia a glimmer of hope for next week’s must-win second Test at Eden Park, a venue where they have not tasted victory since 1986.

Another loss would see New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th-straight year.

Hansen added he did not believe Australia’s loss of fullback Israel Folau to an ankle injury was a fatal blow to their chances, saying Michael Cheika’s men would be desperate for a win.

“We’d be silly to think they haven’t got another player who’s going to step in and wear the jersey with pride and urgency,” Hansen said. “Their backs are against the wall. They’re going to improve. Teams that get beaten learn better than those that win and are hungrier than those that win.”


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