Rugby Championship

All Blacks pair in cotton wool

2014-08-19 09:01
Ma'a Nonu (AFP)

Wellington - New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu and backrow enforcer Jerome Kaino have all but been ruled out of the All Blacks' return match against Australia in Auckland on Saturday.

A final decision would be made on Wednesday but assistant coach Ian Foster said the injured pair were considered "highly unlikely" after having scans.

"They didn't do any training today(Tuesday)," Foster told local media on Tuesday. "We put them in cotton wool, really. We'll know more tomorrow(Wednesday) but the signs are looking that they won't be playing on Saturday."

The loss of Nonu to a shoulder injury will be offset to some extent by the return of his long-term partner in the centres, Conrad Smith, who missed the 12-12 draw in Sydney which opened the four-nation Rugby Championship to be present for the birth of his son.

Either Ryan Crotty or Malakai Fekitoa would step in for Nonu at inside centre to partner Smith, Foster said.

Kaino, who suffered an elbow injury in the Wallabies match, is expected to make way for either Liam Messam or Steven Luatua at blindside flank.


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