All Black fringe to get a run
Wellington - The All Blacks hope to give fringe players game-time against Canada to ensure they are match fit if needed as injury cover later in the Rugby World Cup, assistant coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday.
Hansen said backrower Kieran Read had recovered from an injury scare and was set to play against the Maple Leafs on Sunday but wing Cory Jane was likely to be rested after sustaining a head knock in last week's win over France.
He said wing Richard Kahui was a definite non-starter after straining his hamstring in the same game and loose forward Adam Thomson was in doubt due to a knee injury.
"There's probably a question-mark over whether we take the risk of playing him (Thomson), we'll see what he's like over the next 48 hours," Hansen said.
The assistant coach said Read, who has taken no part in the World Cup so far after suffering a serious ankle injury in a Tri-Nations Test against Australia last month, was raring to go.
He said Read twisted his ankle at training on Wednesday but soon recovered.
"We all got a fright but within half an hour he was fine, he'll be training fully tomorrow and playing on Sunday," Hansen said, adding that the 25-year-old was unlikely to play for 80 minutes.
With the All Blacks expected to comfortably defeat Canada in their final pool match, Hansen said New Zealand's coaching staff were eager to give back-up players a run before the World Cup knockout phase begins.
"People that you know may come into the tournament later on because of injury need to have rugby," he said.
"The only way you can do that is in the tournament itself, so this is the probably the game to give some of those people a trot."
That could be good news for fullback Mils Muliaina and winger Zac Guildford, who, along with Read, are the only members of New Zealand's 30-man squad not to have played so far.
Muliaina, who has lost his status as first-choice fullback to Israel Dagg, has 98 Test caps and will be desperate to add to his tally as he bids to become only the second All Black after Richie McCaw to play 100 Tests.