Wellington - All Blacks flank Sam Cane broke a vertebra in his neck during New Zealand's dramatic win over South Africa, but is expected to make a full recovery, the team said on Monday.
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Cane went off in the 35th minute of the 32-30 win in Pretoria on Saturday and All Blacks doctor Tony Page said he fractured a vertebra in the lower right side of the neck but did not suffer any nerve damage.
Page said the 26-year-old would be sidelined for "several months", ruling him out of the All Blacks' end-of-season tour, which includes Tests against Australia, Japan, England, Ireland and Italy.
He said Cane had surgery to stabilise the injury and would remain in Pretoria this week.
"It'll probably take about three months for the bone to get strong, we'll just take it step by step," he told reporters.
"The operation is just to keep everything in the right place so the bone can heal of its own accord."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he expected the Rugby World Cup winning loose forward, who has played 60 Tests, to return to top-level rugby.
"It's expected he's going to make a full recovery and be back playing," he said.